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Musings on the Movable Middle

Do YOU want to be moved? Who’s talking about the “other side”? IS there another side? So. Many. Questions.

My friend (also a dietitian) and I were talking about some presentations we are both doing in the next few months. She said the phrase “movable middle” and it made me pause and think about this differently.

Who (or what) is the movable middle?

Do “they” know they are movable?

Do “they” WANT to be moved?

I did a Google search on the “moveable middle” this morning. Got 10,700,000 results. Googled “movable middle” and got 25,300,000 results. This phrase is being used for personal and professional topics. Quickly defined, it’s a group of people who have yet to take a side on a particular topic.old way new way

What if every one of us is part of the movable middle, depending on the topic? What if it changes by person or demographic, time of year, or other reasons? Do YOU want to be moved? In other words, if someone talked to you about whatever subject you don’t know much about the way you are talking to them about what you know, would it work? Would you be “moved” to “take a side”? Who’s talking about the “other side”? IS there another side to take? So. Many. Questions.pushing a rock uphill

Picture “moving” people who may not realize they need or want to be moved. Ugh.

Food. We all eat, so we all know it, right? Not so much. The amazing complexities of this four letter word literally start on/in the ground and continue all the way to the landfill. Think soil health. Think farming practices. Think processing. Think cooking. Think wasted food (#foodwaste). Yep. there’s a whole lot of people who don’t know because we aren’t all on a farm anymore and we don’t all learn to cook at home anymore, so this is not inherent knowledge for everyone. Ah. Stated this way, no wonder there are loads of questions for those of us in the know on these topics. Kind of cool when you think about it this way, isn’t it? We have work to do, my dear and knowledgeable colleagues.

If you are a farmer, kids and employees learn how to do chores, care for animals, grow crops, etc.

If you are a chef or cook, kids and staff need to learn how to select, store, and prepare foods of all types.

If you are a dietitian or related health professional, you talk with individuals to understand what they do and don’t know to help them make more informed choices to help achieve their goals, whether managing diabetes, blood pressure, weight, and/or other health topics.

I could go on but you get the point. What if we took these approaches with the public? What if we started thinking about conversations and training versus moving the uninformed? What if, instead of telling stories as people got nervous or demanded information, we (proactively) shared our knowledge in an excited, informative way because we are proud of it and want to help others learn?talking to your peeps

Here’s the big takeaway for all of us: think of a topic you aren’t skilled or trained in. Maybe it’s taxes. Maybe it’s social media. How do you want to learn about this? DO you want to learn about this? Think about your comfort level and learning style, and apply that technique to whatever topic you are expert in the next time someone needs and/or wants the real story. And it’s ok, too, for everyone involved to know that even within a topic where someone hasn’t made a decision, they may never make one. We don’t have to “win” every conversation we have.

I bet you’ll have alot more fun sharing and they will be alot more receptive to your knowledge. Let’s allow ourselves to “move” and “be moved” with care this year.

meeting of the minds

By Kim Kirchherr

I am a dietitian working in food and fiber (agriculture) through retail, addressing opportunities to make things better for people and planet.