As human beings, we have conflicting emotions. I was listening to a story about how the power of social media was able to have the government declare a state of emergency in Sri Lanka. This situation dealt with a minority of Muslims who live in the country, and the majority of Buddhists who bought into the fake news they read on Facebook. Stories were being spread saying that food was being purposefully poisoned by Muslims in order to kill the Buddhists who oppressed them. Before you jump to a conclusion, just think about how easy it is to be manipulated by what we see, hear and read, online and off.
Communication is the key to any good relationship. Think about it: as human beings, we communicate all the time through spoken and written words, but mostly though nonverbal cues. In fact, the breakdown would be as such: 55 percent body language, 38 percent voice tone and only 7 percent the actual words we speak.
Since the 2016 presidential elections, I have been paying attention to how polarized and tribalistic we have become. We often fail to listen to each other before interrupting and saying what we want to say. Being a television host and interviewing people, I understand more than ever the importance of listening to what someone else has to say. I will often ask a question and allow my guest to elaborate their answer and, even though I sometimes would like to interject and jump in, I hold back and wait until their thought is complete. This experience has taught me to be very present and allow the flow of the conversation to dictate where it goes.
There is a difference between thinking you know something and actually knowing it that makes falling into the trap of “my point of view is the only one that’s valid” or a “me versus them” mentality almost a default option. It is very important to understand the importance of recognizing that just because you think you know what you’re talking about does not make it so. When one recognizes their point of view is flawed, one could apologize and let the conversation continue. However, I have witnessed people doubling down on their righteous indignation, as if to say, “how dare you challenge me,” not their ideas or limited thoughts, but the actual person behind them. It creates a persecution complex that is hard to get through.
So, you might be asking: “Eric, how do I get past this bubble of misinformation and actually make myself seen and heard by this other person?”
Well, from my 30 years of life, the best practice that has worked for me has been to put myself in other people’s shoes instead of simply assuming what must be going through their minds. It has given me more insight into who people are than being indignant about them for not thinking or acting the way I would have. Therefore, my encouragement to you is to stop and listen to people, ask open-ended questions, be willing to be wrong, have empathy, be completely open to new possibilities and last but not least: learn to be with the unknown by taking risks outside of your comfort zone. Remember this: great communication is the key for human connection.
How would you like to be seen, heard and valued?
Eric Faria is a Communication & Synergy Specialist, Podcaster, Speaker, and Columnist. He produces and hosts the TV Show I AM with Eric Faria, available on YouTube. The show is also a podcast on Apple Podcasts and SoundCloud. To contact him, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.