Words on Words: bridging sound waves and silence


art by Alice Yu

Alice Yu

Bundled among all the other cool tricks regarding the English language is the relation between the words “listen” and “silent”. By rearranging the letters in one word, you can get the other. Not only do they have a physical relation (a fairly weak one, I’ll admit), they’re also connected in terms of application. The courteous practice of speaking with kindness and truth and listening with intent and care can open up connections of support.
No one has all the answers, including you
Even the person with the highest IQ cannot know the content of every textbook, the culture of every country, or the right and wrong behind every conflict. It is alright and absolutely normal to not have the answer. It is not alright to pretend to have the answer and release erroneous information, either by colossally botching a fact or spewing vicious rumors. Speak the truth and tone down the arrogance. When in arguments, don’t latch onto your views stubbornly, shutting down your opponent by not even listening to their argument. By exercising clear and supported speech as well as attentive listening, it becomes easy to build credibility and trust.
Get your priorities straight: ego or relationship?
Would you rather be “right” or keep your relationship? It can really hurt to admit defeat when you know that you’re right, but what can be gained by trapping yourself in a heated argument that could unleash a whole other torrent of cold shoulders and passive aggressive counter-attacks? If the ultimate goal in hearing the other opponent say, “you’re right” is to prove your superiority, then don’t be surprised when your relationships deteriorate. Many times in arguments, I find myself in a zone where I’m listening to every remark to prepare for a reply, rather than to truly understand someone’s point of view and I doubt I’m the only one. The mindset in arguments have become more about winning and less about understanding, breaking down the blocks of so many relationships.
“Brevity is the soul of wit.”
Courtesy of William Shakespeare, we have a classy quote to remind speakers to condense and focus on what’s important. The greatest ability is to speak in a concise manner, but still get the point across.  Not only do you save your energy, you don’t exhaust your audience’s focus.
While texting and other reading and typing-based interaction is extremely prevalent in our current age, there is still a large part of human interaction that humans through verbal communication. By exercising courtesy in both components of oral conversations — verbal and auditory — environments can become more tolerant, respective and receptive.
art by Alice Yu