George Zimmerman and My Mute Button

Sondra Thiederman, Ph.D.

Yes, I’ll admit it, I bought a small television for my office solely so I could watch the George Zimmerman trial while I worked. Well, that “while I worked” part became a bit of a joke as I often muted the volume and scrambled to write articles and send e-mails during the commercials, side-bars, and repetitious commentary. Sondra's Mute Button

As the days went by, however, I began to notice that it was not only commercials or commentary that caused my right hand to shoot out and turn off the sound. There were other times, too, and those times were often accompanied by an innocent expletive muttered under my breath or in my brain.

You know the sort of thing I mean; something like, “Geeeessss….that’s ridiculous.”

This “muting,” by the way, was not only electronic, but, intellectual and emotional as well. There were times I sat rapt and times when I would decide that it was the “perfect” moment to feed the dog or take a break. In short, I simply stopped listening.

Gradually, a perverse logic to those muted moments began to emerge. I was most apt to mute when either I disagreed with what was being said, or, more to the point, was uncomfortable in some way.

Hmmmm…..interesting. As I watched – and felt – this connection unfold, I was gradually able to label those various emotions as ranging from anger to frustration to emotional or intellectual confusion.

The upshot of all this button pushing is that, despite the investment in that little television, I wasn’t fully listening to or hearing what was being said. I was letting my past experience, past pain, early messages, biases, and, ultimately, self-interest dictate what I allowed to enter my brain.

Lesson learned and more exploration to be done. Thank you CNN.

Sondra Thiederman can be contacted for webinars and in-person presentations by clicking here or calling 619-583-4478. For additional information, go to

© copyright 2013 Sondra Thiederman, Ph.D.

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