Three couples and I got together for lunch yesterday and chose to learn about each other’s backgrounds and motivations instead of aimless drifting topics that will not add any meaning to our lives.
We started the conversation with Gender Pluralism. Most men, not all, have a habit of brushing off a woman when she talks as if her words are not necessary. Two years ago, I was with my family, and my sister was annoyed when boys and men were cutting her off from speaking, we took care of that by setting up the rules, that everyone gets to talk and everyone gets to listen, no opinion is inferior or superior, it would be just different. Some people have gone to the extreme of telling the woman (wife, sister, mother, sister in law or daughter) to shut up and listen, and if that happens in my presence, you bet I would speak up and you should too.
I took my nieces to a politician’s home, and he was signaling his wife to come and take these girls inside, “What do they have to do with politics?” I stopped him short, everything! A woman’s vote counts, half of the votes in given elections should come from women. Why should they not have a voice? Later on, I asked my nieces to opine their take on the issue, and others listened without argument, the nieces had good points to share.
Each one of us in our group took our own time to share our story while others listened to it attentively as equals, maybe not be total attention, but respectful listening. Comments and deviations are a part of us, but we kept on the track. It was an essential exercise of listening and articulating who we were.
Do you know why God (in all traditions) wants us to ask him what we want? Don’t you think he knows what we want? He does, but he is playing a real psychologist, he wants us to learn to articulate, when we verbalize our wants, we put our thoughts together. It brings clarity to us, when there is clarity, we climb the first step towards finding a solution. I was talking with my friend Dr. Humaira about this, and she took the words out of my mouth – religion is about behavior modification for creating secure and cohesive societies.
Our unstated goal was to make our relationships more meaningful and learn about each other. I urge you to consider this approach, do the same next time, you’ll find the get together to be purposeful.
You hear people say, oh, he is my friend, when pressed for a name, they go blank. Let’s make an effort to know our friends if we call someone a friend, or if we work with someone, we should learn at least a little bit about him/her.
When you start a conversation, please focus on the central theme and make an effort to complete it. Avoid walking away frustrated. These frustrations add up and take your peace and tranquility away. Let life be meaningful, and tailor your conversation to complete it in 3, 5, 10, or 30 minutes or no need to have adhooray (incomplete) conversations.
In your exchanges, develop the habit of speaking NO more than two minutes in a stretch, let the conversation be a two way- listening and sharing. I am sure all of us have friends who start speaking at 500 MPH without breathing, afraid that someone will steal the moment. Assure them that you will listen to them and ask them to take time and not rush. What is the point in having incomplete talks?
Let the conversation not be a 7-minute monologue – it is boring, and no one will get it, they will wander off in their world. Please keep the conversation engaging by keeping it short. If you believe in equality, don’t hog the time, let everyone speak.
If we spend time with anyone, why not listen attentively and make it meaningful?
Mike Ghouse, Motivational Speaker
Center for Pluralism