Thursday, December 20, 2007

Be open

I sometimes wonder why people are not able to say what they really think, especially people in my part of the world and culture. This 'saving face', respect for elders, etc practice just gets me frustrated at times, when people don't know how to say 'no' or avoid confrontation by changing or avoiding the subject, postponing a response, giving excuses etc. It could be as simple as an invitation to an event, or a request to consider an idea. It sometimes gets worse if you press them a little further for a proper, definitive answer.

What's more irritating is that after this, they go behind your back and gossip about the issue with other people, without even having gotten the full facts simply because they were not open to listening and/or thought they knew better. Or they accuse you in your face with some unreasonable accusation.

I don't see anything wrong in saying 'no' or giving your honest opinion. It must however be arrived at after gaining proper knowledge and understanding i.e. an educated and fair opinion. I believe if it is done tactfully, politely, there is no reason for the person to feel offended, more so if he is a friend or close one. He would understand and respect the other's opinion/decision.

I'd prefer the person to speak his mind (reasonably, objectively, rationally) so that I can understand his thoughts and feelings better.

I have been a culprit of this too. I guess we who have been 'nurtured' in this Asian environment somehow tend to do it more than others. From young, children were to be seen and not heard. At school, you speak only when you are spoken too. You get scolded, belittled or worse still punished, if you were to offer your ideas or thoughts. We are spoonfed with information and learn by rote. We are not encouraged to question, discover, explore independently.

On the subject of respect, it is good that we are taught to respect our elders. But how can one learn respect when it is not mutual? Some people view respect as listening, obeying, following their instructions and ideas without consideration of new/alternative ideas or opinions. How can one expect respect if one does not first show respect?

OPEN communication and OPEN minds, that's what I'm all for.

“The world is full of people who have never, since childhood, met an open doorway with an open mind.”

“Prejudice is a great time saver. You can form opinions without having to get the facts.”

- E. B. White (American writer 1899-1985)

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