Rants and raves about stuff happening in and around my life in Singapore

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Art of Communication

10:01 PM By Barry Smyth No comments

I am tired of being misunderstood, of having to push through the layers of treacle that seem to surround conversations at times, of dealing with pedantic obstinate people who are incapable of changing their point of view because it’s the only one that matters. Of the tit-for-tat exchanges that perpetuate and escalate from a seemingly innocent statement into an all out war of words that oft times spiral out of control.

And yes, as much as I am guilty of all of the above myself, and freely admit it, I also know that I have the capacity to step back from such exchanges. Sometimes I even do, letting the inevitable verbal stream wash over me like icy-cold water while I internalize the screams of “fuck you” both at myself and my antagonist until the stream dries up and a sense of normality returns followed by the equally inevitable “water under the bridge” or “forget it” comments of closure the final twists of the dagger to be endured.

I am nothing special, I know that nearly every person could say the same and like me have been in many such situations with someone younger or older while their own inner voice screams “I have a point of view, listen to it”, the fuel our ego’s add to the fire by default in an effort to be heard and understand. Understanding, the elusive holy grail of conversation.

Conversation is often nothing more than an illusion at times as we fool ourselves into thinking we are listening when what we are listening for is the flaws, the tiniest of cracks, the minor discrepancies or that ultimate prize the opportunity to one-up the conversation because you did it better or worse or know a friend of a friend who did, the “beat that” factor.

It’s not a generation thing, it’s simply a human condition. Few people are able to step beyond it, many aren’t even aware of it their own ego’s already trained to drown out sensibility, while most (of which yet again I include myself) are stuck firmly in the middle swinging between the two extremes like a perpetual pendulum bashing our heads against the proverbial brick wall over and over again.

And as I strive to be one of the few, those that know when to stay silent and just simply nod in agreement sacrificing their own point of view in the process to avoid slamming into that brick wall face first (a life long journey I fear), I realize that I simply lack the patience to deal with idiots, especially those that delight in lauding the conversation with their inherently flawed knowledge.

Stupidity is just extremely difficult to ignore. I’m no saint, far from it, but I’m beginning to see where the expression “the patience of a saint” comes from because seriously, trying to have a normal conversation with some people is almost impossible.  I need to get better at switching off and faking that interested expression as I doubt the brutal honesty of “you’re talking shit and I have no wish to continue this inane conversation” is not particularly endearing as truthful as it may be at times.

And when that conversation turns to advice we enter into a verbal mine field, one without a safe path through it I might add. No-one listens to advice even if it is based on real life personal experience. There’s simply something about the human condition that treats any and all advice with dismissal and once it’s offered we seem to develop instant goldfish memory syndrome.

Worse again is if you are getting advice from someone you already struggle to converse with as then your conversation enters a whole new world of mental anguish. Yes, there are some people that just drone on as if they will never run out of steam with words gushing out of them in an unending torrent of incomprehensibility. Violence is alas never the answer even if the temptation to stem the flow is a quick backhand to the face.

So as much I as need to work on understanding others, I know that I also need to work on being understood in equal measure both tasks facing insurmountable odds of being accomplished in one life time I might add. Still, at least it’s something to work towards, and what is life but a series of challenges anyway so one more isn’t’ going to make that much of a difference in the scheme of things.

Yes, conversation is an art form, one we all need to pay a little more attention too.

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