The growing intolerance in society clearly implies that we do not like to accommodate everyone’s opinions; we do not treat them with the same respect as we do ours. There are hate and rage among all regarding almost everyone around them. Be it inter-racial intolerance, inter-religion or between family members and friends. According to popular opinion, the key to dilute the rage around us is communication with our peers. But when the tools with which we are equipped to converse with one another are themselves flawed, what does one do?
Communicating your point of view is deemed to be healthy and regarded as the solution to all problems the two parties involved are facing. But there are several prerequisites for the conversation to be successful that are often missed. First and foremost is treating the other person devoid of all his vices and as equal to yourself so that you can treat their opinions equal to yours. The second prerequisite, which is often ignored is to just focus on the words coming right at that moment from the other person’s mouth. This happens to be a no-brainer, but this is why even after communicating with one other, anyone hardly reaches to any solution.
Whenever we are conversing with a person, we are not waiting for the words to come out from his mouth to form an opinion about them in our mind. Rarely anyone waits for the whole conversation to end to finally form an opinion about the other person, based on the points they put forward. In our minds, an opinion is already formed. Based on their appearance, their style of speaking, opinion of them is already made in our minds. Or, if the person is someone close to you, you have already formed their impression in your mind and align the words coming out of their mouth to your preconceived notion about them of how they were in the past, which can be totally misleading.
Your parents, partner, friends do listen to what you are saying and are in perennial efforts to improve your relationship with them. While you are accustomed to act and answer to the personality they were in the past, they might have changed and are now offering you kindness, support and solutions which were needed in the first place.
People are generally incapable of significant change. They are, however, capable of adopting minor habits which can build up to be a bigger change in future. And we have to be aware of these small changes happening in the other person when we are talking to them regularly and sharing with them our daily woes. This interference of our pre-formed notions about the other in our conversations with them can happen on any topic.
Whether you are discussing your financial problems with your partner, your emotional ones with parents, your professional ones with your colleagues, or in a much larger scope, where you are discussing the importance of various religious sects to the person belonging to a diverse religion like a Hindu-Muslim conversation. This interference is happening all the time with you and others without you even noticing it.
The third prerequisite for the conversations to be healthy is to give the other person space to be themselves and avoid judging them. We often categorize people based on their actions and put them in a category which suits us best. Going forward, we look at them with that perspective only. The thing to remember here is that everyone is a unique amalgamation of their social conditioning, parenting, schooling and peers. No one person can be similar to others. Then why judge the other person if their actions don’t align with your conceived notions about being good or sincere.
Everyone’s definition of that term and the way they choose to implement those traits in their lives can be different. And one cannot know it all. No matter how basic emotions like love, hate, kindness, support are to every human, the implementation of the emotion in their daily lives varies from person to person. Like DNA, even if it’s copied from centuries, no one DNA is the same among the trillion lives that have been lived on this Earth.
Communication is no doubt the greatest tool which is used to navigate through life and with our peers smoothly and happily. But with it, there’s another equally important tool. Perceiving the person’s words and actions in a literal form, and not attaching it to any internal bias of yours or to any formed notion about their materialistic belongings which doesn’t speak anything about the person’s core values and beliefs.
If we all deviate our attention from the symbolic meaning and focus on the literal meaning of the conversation, we might be able to understand the other person’s true intentions and how they can be different from past. The art of conversation can take the human race to heights. Thus we must hone it constantly devoid of any biases to have a peaceful and less intolerant environment for all to live.