Blog & Insight

Are you on the same page?

Explorations of the metaphors contained in your language can often uncover currently hidden perspectives or solutions.

Today's exploration arose when a colleague recently said they weren't on the same page as someone they were working with, and didn't know how to improve the situation.

Logically the idiom means finding common agreement about a situation or solution. The process for doing that however can be fraught with problems. With both sides potentially not wishing to move from their current thinking, and even resisting seeing the other persons point of view or perspective.

Exploring the metaphor may just help uncover some, so far, unconsidered strategies.

Putting the situation, you'd like to get on the same page with someone about, to the back of our mind, let's explore the literal meaning of the words a little more.

Please note: My unconscious is going to notice the things within the metaphor that make the most sense for me at this time, and may be different than the things you notice. You may therefore want to spend some time exploring what not being on the same page means metaphorically to you, before reading my own thoughts.

Here's my thoughts.....

If we're not on the same page as someone it presupposes we're on a different page.

To me the pages are in a book, and therefore the different pages could be in the same chapter, the same book, the same shelf, the same shop/library, the same city or country, or the same world or not.

What are the potential solutions to getting onto the same page in each of the above situations:

  • Same chapter - If we're on a different page in the same chapter I'd suggest we need to simply delete some of the paragraphs and sentences between the two positions. To provide less detail, perhaps summarising each paragraph into a sentence. Although if we're using Kindle, or any other ereader, we may be able to get onto the same page by making the font smaller. 
  • Same book - We need to head to the introduction of the book to discover what links the two chapters - to understand the goal of the book, and how each chapter supports that goal. Or perhaps we need to rewrite the book? Or just look at the index to find them on the same page.
  • Same shelf - Again we're looking at finding the common ground that makes sense of all of the books on that shelf. You may want to consider the book title that could contain each of these pages. Easier perhaps if it's the same genre of book, rather than simply written by the someone with a surname starting with the same letter of the alphabet! 
  • Same shop/library - Perhaps not so easy to find common ground if we're simply in Barnes & Noble, Waterstones or WHSmith (Unless of course you both like the same bookshop, and can explore what it is you like about them). Easier if we're in a specialist bookshop with some common interest shared by all the books there. 

Don't worry about how this exploration relates to real life, just explore the different ways we can be on different pages, and the solutions available to moving to being on the same page.

Follow the weird and amusing tangents your mind takes you on.

In metaphors there's no right or wrong, just what your mind brings into your conscious awareness. Laughter is always a great sign of shifts happening, so do please follow any and all absurd and humorous thoughts.  

The aim is to find all the potential solutions before applying the real life situation to it. It's as if we're keeping all the real life reasons we're not on the same page out of sight and mind whilst we explore means of finding resolution.   

  • Same city - Here I think we need to start to explore what we both like/find interesting or even don't like about the city first, before even attempting to understand and consider the other person's page. Or perhaps it's about getting a map of the city to understand how far apart you are from each other, and to understand the route from one to the other. Or maybe it's about exploring the city together first, as there may be another page you've missed.  
  • Same country - Here at least we're talking the same language. If we're not in the same country the solution is to first find a common language to speak - or a need to get out our respective phrase books. (Remembering that many books have different titles around the world - ie they're not literal translations of each other.)    
  • Same world: Being on pages on different worlds reminds me of the following collage that often provides insight in problem solving sessions in workshops.

What additional scenarios and potential solutions came to mind for you as you've read this post?

My notes are full of pictures of the above situations, and may certainly have helped my mind make links between very different ideas that currently exist on different pages.

One additional thought - if we wanted everyone to be on the same page about everything we'd just have one book in every shop and library - no variety, no choice, no options! How weird would that be?

Applying the metaphorical insight to the real life situation

Once we've explored the metaphor it's then time to apply the solutions to the current situation, and notice what we notice.

Simply reading the above exploration may have shifted something, which means you're already saying "oh it's not a problem really" or "I can see we're not really that far apart".

There's many ways you can do this:

  • You may already know it feels like you're in the same book or same shelf, and can therefore explore how that might lead to an opportunity to find agreement. 
  • Alternatively you may wish to test applying each of the above solutions to your situation, and identify an action plan from there. 
  • Or some other solution may appear.  

Personal Example

Here's the strategy that has come to mind for me about a situation where it's apparent it's not just 2 people on different pages but a number of us!!

Situation: Not being on the same page about how to develop and market my business. Lots of people are giving me different advice, and I'm feeling a little resistant to listening to them, and yet know I need to do something different.

Here's the variety of pages people are currently coming from:

  • Page 1: Use social media to market your business
  • Page 2: Call three people every day to talk about what you can do for them
  • Page 3: Focus on what difference you can make in the world as result of your success (contribution, philanthropy etc)
  • Page 4: Focus on your Website/Blogs
  • Page 5: Find raving fans
  • Page 6: Focus on the end result
  • Page 7: Concentrate on what you're passionate about
  • Page 8: Go with the flow
  • Page 9: Enjoy life 
  • Page 10: Listen to your intuition

Initially I feel the need to put the above pages into books:

  • Marketing your business: pages 1, 2, 4, 5
  • Setting up your business: page 7
  • Happy Life: pages 10, 8, 9, 3, 6

Hmmm ..... it already feels less like they're pulling me in different directions because we all have the same goal.

It certainly feels like I'm at least in the same shop, and am drawn to going to the Mind and Body section first, and then over onto the Business section (which is what I always do when I visit a bookshop anyway), with an action plan forming that suggests:

  • Be me - intuitive, laughter, fit and health
  • Identify the difference I wish to make 
  • Make sure the business delivers that difference (doing what ever it takes to shout about it from the roof tops)

Which means another page, not on the original list, has appeared a page about how to get fit and healthy, and feels like the missing link.

If you'll allow me to mix my metaphors for a moment - not being able to see the wood for the trees about where to take my business is significantly impacted by the health of my mind, body and soul.

If I focus on getting that more balanced, vibrant and flourishing, the route out of the wood will become clearer.    

Not where I expected this blog to take me, and yet at the same time such a GREAT example of how using metaphors can help us find the missing link, to take responsibility for what we need to do differently to move from where we are to where we want to be.

Do get in touch if you'd like to find out more about coaching available personally or as a team.


© Alison Smith
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Registered in Scotland, Registration Number: SC457105
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