Peeling back the layers and navigating the communication dance

by Kok Jun Sern

Image courtesy of Kok Jun Sern

In the intricate dance of human relationships, understanding someone goes beyond the surface. As Oscar Wilde insightfully noted, “The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.”

This sentiment lays the groundwork for a profound truth: knowing a person is an ongoing journey where what we see and what we know may merely scratch the surface.

It’s a reminder never to jump to conclusions based on assumptions, especially when it involves those close to us.

As we travel the labyrinth of human relationships, the threats of assumptions become apparent. Ralph Waldo Emerson’s wisdom, “What you are shouts so loudly in my ears that I cannot hear what you say,” emphasizes the importance of peeling back layers before forming conclusions. This journey necessitates humility, an openness to understanding without jumping to hasty judgments.

Words, those powerful tools of communication, can be both bridges and barriers. Maya Angelou’s insight, “Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning,” underscores the impact of our expressions.

The permanence of spoken words produces moments of contemplation, leading some to choose the path of silence. As Confucius wisely advises, “Silence is a true friend who never betrays.” In the symphony of communication, the saying “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” emerges as a guiding principle. Therefore, choosing silence becomes a conscious act of preserving harmony in the face of potential conflict, reinforcing the preference for a harmonious existence.

Harmony, a melody that resonates with many, “Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding”, an insight by the brilliant Albert Einstein says it all. The personal preference for everyone to be harmonious aligns with the belief that it is the way forward. However, the diverse human journey accommodates those who choose the path of conflict. As Martin Luther King Jr. reminds us, “True peace is not merely a distant goal; it is the journey we choose to embrace today.”

At the heart of this intricate dance is the virtue of humility. C.S. Lewis articulates, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” The key is to stay humble, recognising that wisdom is not a destination but a continuous journey of growth and understanding. It is humility that serves as the compass, navigating the labyrinth of diverse perspectives.

Finally, the profound lesson lies in accepting diversity and honoring differences. Audre Lorde’s wisdom resounds: “It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognise, accept, and celebrate those differences.”

Learning to accept the fact that we all are different and have different thinking, and some may not be what you want or expect, becomes a crucial part of this human journey.

There will be moments when we may not be able to please everyone, and there are definitely some who won’t see eye to eye with you but we need to move forward. That is the beauty of human diversity.

In the grand narrative of human experience, let us navigate with the compass of humility, wield words with care, and weave a symphony of understanding, acceptance, and harmony. For in acknowledging that knowing a person is a complex journey and that we all contribute unique notes to the human melody, lies the profound wisdom that enriches our shared human journey.

Kok Jun Sern is a HRDC-certified trainer in communications and public-speaking