Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A matter of respect

In a math question, there's right and wrong. One plus one equals two. If anyone says otherwise he would be wrong. In yes or no quizzes or exams, there's right and wrong. It's only so that it would be possible for the exam-taker to be graded. In any of the above scenarios, we are expected to choose the right answers. Only then would it be possible for anyone to do well in life. But of course, when it comes to more complex matters you would be required to explain your answer. Explanation, together with the right answer, equals full marks.

In life, there's right and wrong. Yes, we would all like to choose the right answer. However, what is considered right is relatively, relative. Your friend might think what he is doing is right, and you would beg to differ. So, this can be categorized under 'complex matters' - explanation is now required; for justification, to determine which right is, in fact, right. In the event that you are right, and your friend is wrong, well, good for you. With your right answer you hammer and assault your friend with clever and intellectual answers, leaving him no place to take shelter or refuge. He's wrong, and that's that. I give the right answer, and a flawless explanation is the icing on the cake. Full marks I get. Well, not quite.

You see, interaction with people is different. People have feelings, emotions. They have dignity and a sense of self-worth. Being humans, none of us would like our feelings and reputations to be trampled on, even when we're in the wrong. And so life differs from examinations on paper. Empathy, compassion and mercy are required. I have found communication skills with other people so important that it is certainly regretful how they are not included in a student's academic syllabus, at least not in Malaysia. Instead, knowledge about most things that people wouldn't use or even remember in life (namely history and additional mathematics, no offense) are implemented.

Tactfulness is in many ways key. There are so many ways in conveying a message, but how do the ways differ from each other? How is it that the outcome of them would differ to such a great extent? To express exactly what you feel to another person, yet delicately taking his emotions and feelings into consideration and not ruining his image whilst expressing, is a skill that I believe needs to be learnt. Once acquired, things would flow much more smoothly; unnecessary and unhelpful dissension and strife are profitably bypassed. And guess what? It doesn't really matter if you're right or wrong, unless the gravity of the situation is indeed exceptionally grave so that it would matter if you're right or wrong, which is highly unlikely in most cases. What matters most is how other human beings like ourselves would feel in the end. A self-absorbed person would think of this as a nuisance. It takes sincerely putting yourself in someone's shoes to recognize that how another feels is equally as important as how you would yourself feel. If the other party is being unreasonable, you'd need that skill- to correct him of his error and protect his pride simultaneously in spectacular fashion.
"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."

~Proverbs 15:1 [NIV]
May God give us the grace to behave only in the way the former of the sentence describes.

P.S. Windjammer, this is what you taught me. Thanks. ;)

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