April 28, 2010
My friend Chris is a great reflector. I bounce shit off him all the time: questions, ideas of some sort or other, both work-related and not. He’s the perfect person to do this with.
When light hits a surface, the surface absorbs all of the wavelengths you don’t see. So if something is blue, you’re literally only seeing blue light reflected back from it.
People can act the same way. When I bounce all my random crap off of Chris, he reflects only the stuff that’s interesting. If I spout off about some idea that’s completely worthless, I’ll know pretty quickly from his silence. If I hit a nerve, he’ll be racing off into the conversation - or typing faster than I can keep up on IM. It’s like a bandpass filter for interesting.
Most people have a filter like this. But most people’s filter is out of alignment. They don’t have the tuning for “interesting” or “important”. Their own biases or focus slide their filter outside of the important-to-you frequencies.
A lot of people might get annoyed at Chris occasionally because he’s so honest. Honesty is critical for reflectivity. When you’re not honest, you’ll reply politely to everything said to you, and you won’t have any reflection. Come to think of it, you can generally take polite nods and replies as equivalent to silence: either their reflection filter is too broad, or their filter isn’t attenuated.
I wish I knew good ways to find people like this. It’s usually trial and error. My starting point is to find the smartest people in the room that seem to have similar spheres of interest and then try to keep up until I have a sense of their filter.