I feel deeply depressed and upset when my conversation with people does not go alright. Especially when the other person is in power and the conversation makes me powerless and manipulated, I become speechless. This experience has probed me to reflect upon how respectful communication plays an important part in our daily lives. Apart from the ends that a communication intend to achieve, I value ‘respectful communication’ in itself as an educative space. It not only reflects our respect for people involved in the conversation, but also creates a space that values equality, dignity and fellowship.
Respectful communication is not merely a skill that can be developed and a technique that can be obtained through training. Instead it is a worldview and an epistemological stand point. It becomes fundamental to human existence and relationship. When an language education professor who has produced very rigorous academic work spoke to someone in a rude and disrespectful manner, I wondered what it means to write about various dimensions of language education and communication and what it means to follow it in one’s own life. When a fellow co-worker spoke to someone in a indifferent and uninterested manner, I wondered what it means to cohabit a space and claim that one belong to that community. Respectful communication is not about diplomatic conversations, but about genuine interest and love for a fellow human being’s words and thoughts. This is rooted in a deep sense of justice and comradeship. It requires one to navigate beyond one’s identities that are rooted in hierarchy and domination, and exist with no embellishments as a pure human being in flesh and blood.
Why is respectful communication an educative space? It is educative because it teaches us about some fundamental human values. It teaches us about what it means to coexist and share histories and narratives. It is a fulfilling experience that allows one to be critical about one’s standpoints and become more considerate and empathetic. Communication happens all the time between and among individuals, polities, nations and communities. If all of them becomes respectful, tremendous meaning and knowledge can be co-constructed.