Sunday, December 15, 2013

Plead for respect

I thought I had a fear of disagreements. I suppose by nature I am a very agreeable person, and I absolutely despise insults (giving and receiving). So for the longest time, I assumed that the fear I have of engaging in a debate with people, or even stating my somewhat controversial opinion, stemmed from my fear of disagreements.

But recently, it's come to light that it's not the disagreement I fear. It's two separate fears in one.

First is the fear of miscommunication- I am terrified of being misunderstood. I worry that my thoughts won't flow well enough and will confuse others. I flush at the thought that I accidentally misuse a word, or that the way I'm defining a term is different from others. I also worry that I approach many topics and situations differently from others, and as a result everything I have to say will be completely foreign to them. And I realize that many times it's not just my own inadequate communication, but that some people will simply have a harder time seeing things through my lens. But I end up feeling responsible, because the only thing within my control in such a situation is the way I phrase my words.

And combined with that fear is the fear of misinterpreting what someone else says. We're all different people and certain to mean things differently after all. While I fear confusing people, I also fear being confused by other- except I end up seeing this as my own lack of comprehension rather than their lack of fluency.

Second comes the fear of competition. My opinions are always my own, I will try to convince people that they have merits though. However, when talking about a controversial topic, my ideal conversation would not be two people's competing opinions at war with each other. I always enter these conversations with the hopes that, perhaps, it'll turn into a group effort whereby we can reach a conclusion that is somewhat satisfactory to all and allows everyone to rethink their own opinions. It's a journey where all sorts of interesting thoughts are put out there without fear of ridicule, no matter how extreme or unsound the thought might be. In fact, half the time I think we should explore opinions that we absolutely disagree with just for the sake of approaching topics from another viewpoint.

Some key people I'd love to have these conversations with:

  • An orthodox religious person
  • A mormon
  • A creationist 
  • A terrorist
  • A radical liberal/conservative
Sadly, a real life conversation with any of these people is likely to fail my standards of a good conversation. But one can always hope. 

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