There’s so much that can be revealed through conversations or the lack of it. I have spent a lifetime, it seems, trying to decipher people based on conversations. The journey has not been a simple one.
When I was younger, I was shy. That meant I listened more than I spoke. I noticed. I observed. It was back then that I realised that much of the communication was unspoken: It was in the shift of the weight from one leg to another, it was in the pauses, it was in the expressions. As I grew older, my understanding changed and morphed, and often I had to correct myself in the light of new information and new understanding.
My fascination with communication led me to study it further. I moved beyond the initial university courses to expand my understanding. I took up further courses in Speech Communication Arts, where I understood communication through drama tools. And then I explored components of language, language systems, language acquisitions, and psychology of language, especially in social settings. Each new journey led me to understand conversations differently.
What was revealed to me at first was beyond my superficial comprehension. In simple words, I had opened the pandora’s box and I was trying to make sense of what came out. It had consequences. What does one do with the knowing? What if you get to know more about people than you had bargained for? Do you react differently? Do you get more empathetic? And what if you are wrong? I had never thought that I will be faced with such questions. But here I was. Trying to answer it in whatever way I could. Conversations were complicated enough but online conversations and social media conversations complicated things even further. How do you know what you know? How do you trust it? After all, you can’t see the shift of stance, the glisten of eyes, and the change of tone. The navigation points needed change. Again.
Somewhere, down this journey, I looked inwards too. It is of course harder to decipher oneself than to decipher others. But it had to be done. Communication is a two-way process. If I don’t understand myself, I won’t understand others. This was the hardest part of the journey, and perhaps this one will last the longest.
Conversations are often layered and communication, usually problematic. However, it fascinates me still. I have built my entire life around it now. The questions continue: What was said? Why was it said? Why were some things left unsaid? And most importantly, what does it reveal about those we speak to, and what does our reaction to them reveal about us?
The most important learning of the journey is that some conversations will never be deciphered. Perhaps, that’s the beauty of it, knowing that one can never know it all. And yet understanding that volumes can sometimes be spoken and collective wisdom can be passed from one being to another, without conversation. According to historian, Yuval Noah Harari, this is the basis of our evolution as well.
My fascination with conversations continue, but I know that not all conversations are understood, and not all communications need conversations.