I read a quote the other day that said: A lot of problems in the world would disappear if we talked to each other instead of about each other. It got me thinking, which isn’t always a good thing. I thought about the level of truth in it and then I thought again. Talking is one thing isn’t it? Listening without judgement is another. And then I wondered, which one is more important or are they both of equal importance? Do we hear properly when we listen or do we hear only part of what’s being said because our judgemental thoughts are having their own conversation with us?
Lots of questions and I didn’t come up with many answers, just more thoughts. Is it possible for the world to be a better place with many of its problems resolved if we talked to each other more, or is the art of true conversation being lost in the jungle of technology in which we all live? Emails, Whats App, texts………there’s an endless list of available methods to communicate with one another. How many of us really knew what Zoom was before March of this year? Another thing to add to the talking technology jungle which helped to keep many of us sane in the early days of lockdown. All of my paid work at the moment is taking place on it, as is the educational Breathworks mindfulness training I’m completing. It’s kept many businesses alive during Covid-19 and for that we’re extremely grateful but it’s not a suitable forum for lots of services. Zoom fatigue has affected many of us. Face-to-face client work is still essential for so many things not least of which is reading body language correctly and picking up on subtle signals indicating that it’s our turn to shut up and listen to what another person has to say. This is so easily missed on Zoom. Who knew Halloween would look so different this year? Zoom Zombies are an actual thing now.
I digress, because the quote wasn’t examining the virtues of the different ways that we have at our disposal to talk to another human being in our post COVID-19 world. Its essence was highlighting the virtue of talking to each other as opposed to talking about each other, to resolve the problems in our world.
The ability to do this requires us to take off our judgemental hats, place them to one side and step into another person’s shoes. The uncomfortable fit of those shoes helps us to see the world from their point of view. The homeless person whose background and story we know nothing about. The person struggling with addiction whose life chapters we haven’t read. The person who was born into domestic conflict which meant they were never going to experience a trouble free childhood or know times where their home was warm enough with cupboards full of food. Instead their lives would be filled with trauma, neglect and abuse.
As judging humans we have the ability to pass total strangers in the street and judge them based on what they’re wearing, the colour of their skin, their sexuality or their age. Our judging eyes know no limits. The quote is ringing in my ears again: talking to each other instead of about each other. So how do we get to understand one another better? Perhaps closer to home, it starts with family and friendships. Talking to each other instead of about each other. The art of conversation is the soul of relationships; the glue that’s binds them together. It’s not a mobile phone, a laptop or the latest gadget. It involves our ability to move our mouths and use our ears, engage our minds and open our hearts.
My mantra for myself today is this: talk less, judge less, listen more. Being the best version of us isn’t easy because we’re human. We’re all a work in progress with imperfections and shortcomings but the world can be a better place with less problems in it, if we play our part. We’re all more alike than unalike. All of us want to be heard, loved and live a life free from pain and suffering. The process for change starts with us.