(Continuation from Crayons: Part 1)
Just like each person holds his crayon in his own way, each person use words differently too. Not everyone have the skill to say it ‘politically correct’. One person might use words that represent an offence to another, e.g. swearing. (I’m not talking about careless profanity, so context is relevant.) Does that mean that they should go unheard and misunderstood because they don’t know how to say it eloquently?
Words in conflict can be especially hard. I think that it is good, though, to apply the same principle: that understanding is more important than each literal word in isolation. Initially I didn’t fare to well. I’m using anger as an example: Someone expresses their emotion, including some foul language. You can either walk away understanding why the person is upset, or you can go away with “they used the ‘F’ word”. Who knows, maybe there was the occasional valid point. I wouldn’t know, I wasn’t listening... for every time I came away with the latter...
One of the “filters” that affect the words we hear/interpret is when you are personally involved in the conflict. When the anger / frustration / resentment, etc. is about you it is not always easy to listen objectively. Admittedly so there have been times when I’ve been less successful at it than other times.
However, in the greater scheme of things I still think that it is more important to continue honing the ability to use words than not communicating at all, even though it might be somewhat clumsy or messy at first. For me it is part of getting to understand each other better and the more you communicate the better you become at it. Sometimes improvement needs to happen “in transit”. Life doesn’t always stop for you to perfect something first and then move forward, so get good at communication “on the go”.
(I think it is important to add that the attitude with which you use words (communicate) needs to be kept under constant watch. Being “clumsy” or “messy” with words does not give you the right to rip others apart as you please. Attitudes of the heart is often not spoken with lips, or heard with ears, but whispered heart to heart while you’re busy saying something else.) If you really care about the other person that is part of the relationship then you make room for them to grow (and if the caring is mutual, then you don’t abuse that gesture – If you get invited to a party and it matters to you, then you show up - - and you tango!)
Learning to communicate well – especially with those that we share longer term relationships with – is a challenge that require commitment, patience and perseverance. Shutting up like a clamp, creating the illusion of peace, doesn’t really help anyone. It is a ticking time bomb that will inevitably explode somehow and someone somewhere will most certainly bear the scars.
We can so easily become caught up in what words mean to us that we forget about what they mean to the one uttering them. He who holds the crayon knows the picture he is trying to draw. Sometimes the picture is not a portrait of you, so if you really care to know, get to know the colorful vocabulary in someone else’s crayon box.