Conversations. Communication. Some chitter chatter. Some serious dialogues.
Words could be the one intangible absolutely necessary element of human survival. Words indeed can make or break a person. Words set the cultural standards of a relationship. Words reflect the values of an organisation.
That is the power of words. And that is the importance of conversations.
Admittedly, it took me quite some time to realise this though. Having been a debater for most of my life growing up, somewhere I got caught in that trap of winning arguments till at some point I realised that human interaction is not about winning or losing. It is about furthering a cause. Every conversation is the patronization of a certain mindset and that is what matters.
Say, if there is a debate on “THBT the world does not need feminism anymore because the scales have tilted the other way and how”. And in the course of the competition, I get to speak in favour of the motion because that’s how competitions work – someone has to speak in favour and someone has to speak against. I don’t want to win that debate. I’d be happy to lose in that case because the thought I’d be asked to represent is irrational and doesn’t help anyone.
Now, this is also a moment to be mindful and accept what you have control over and what you don’t have control over. As a participant, I don’t have control over deciding the motion for the day. That’s something I only get to accept. But as a participant, I have complete power over what I speak, the thoughts I put out there, and the mindset I advance in the course of my speech. And that is where I can be sensible and seek to support the cause over and above winning the argument.
Transitioning this understanding to human conversations for the last decade now has been such a blessing in life. When you think back to troubled relationships from your life, to discords, to uncomfortable distance with someone you were extremely close to you would realise that the starting point of the downward spiral is often silence, silence to avoid difficult conversations, silence to keep the peace. Except, that peace has already turned into an illusion the moment you fear it’s too fragile for words.
This is in no way to take away the fun factor from conversations. This is to be intentional and mindful of the values you reinforce through the conversations you enjoy.
It is equally important to remember that we can always be playful in the way we put across a serious point in the conversation, we can be kind in speaking the truth about the situation at hand, we can be compassionate in sharing our observation of the other person’s behaviour, and we can always be open to listening to way more than we speak.
Silence is not the enemy here. Strategic silence or forced silence is problematic. And so is the silence of denial. In itself, silence does create the space for healthier, increasingly mindful conversations. Silence is an opportunity to observe, understand, and hold space for the other person(s), for alternate perspectives. Let’s allow silence to heal. Let’s find ways of constructive, mindful conversations in the silence.