Aug 25, 2009

How to communicate sensitive issues, nicely

Race and religion. Touchy subject ain't it?

Our government asks us to not talk about it so as to not hurt feelings and threaten peace and security. Way to run a country, guys!
Granted, I will never run a country and I wouldn't know how to anyway. If you gave me a country to run, I'd make everyday a Casual Friday and Subway sandwiches a national staple. But hey, that's just me.

This subject's been debated by many alike, and for now, it's all talk, no actual doers. Holy crap, that word exists! Doers...... Anyway, no doers doing the "doing". But is evading the subject, a GIANT as frak subject, advisable?

This is so important because it's what makes up the core of this country, its multi-racial community. No doubt, there will be people at loggerheads because of differences in beliefs and culture but don't problems have a better chance at being solved if you sat down and talked about it?

"Dude, why you hatin' on me?"

"Man, you been sweatin' all over my girl!"

"Dude, I din know she wuz yo woman. If I knew I wud'nt even've looked! Sorry, man. We tight?"

"Yeah, we cool."

Oh wow, that was extremely difficult imaginary dialogue. I don't think it was even an accurate portrayal. Maybe I should've localized it.

"Eh beb, 'napa you jiwang?"

"Where got? Nothing lah... I'm fine."

"Sure ah? I ask because I see you so sad like that..."

"Nah, you asked me wan ah... I say adi dun angry ah. Pagi tadi, you stole my parking spot lah."

"What? That was you ah?! Hahaha, soli ah. I tot who is it early in the morning so ganas ah... Sorry lah, I circled 15 minutes adi still no parking and I din know you were waiting ma... I belanja you lunch lah, wan anot?"

"You belanja ah? OK lor. Let's go Madam Kwan's lah, I like their nasi lemak."

"WAH! Like dat cannot lah..."

I have limited imagination. Quite obviously.

My point is, you talk so you can understand what's going through the other person's mind. What is it that ticked him off? Why did that make him unhappy? How can it be solved and avoided? Questions like that will be answered if both parties are willing to sit down and talk.

But of course, if everyone did that and that led to desired results, I wouldn't be writing this shit, would I?
I know not every situation will be win-win because everyone's got their own behind to take care of. I'm not going to even imagine that people would put their welfare aside just so we could live happily ever after and not worry about who stands to gain from this agreement. Although come to think of it, if we live in utopia, we wouldn't need to worry about our welfares, would we?

The one thing I will point out when talking about "sensitive" issues (jebus, I'm hating that word every time I use it) is Tact.

I know I myself lack tact (lactate! *snorts*) most times but grievances should not be presented so bluntly so we don't go pissing everyone off and start slaughtering each other. Tact, is to get your point across without aggravating feelings. Slithering past human emotions is quite difficult. I recommend a course in Communications... look at me, shamelessly plugging my degree. If only that was what I actually took. Okay, whatever.

How do you tell someone their breath stinks? Would you go, "whoa, is that a mouth or a septic tank"? There are several ways to approach this. You could offer a mint to that person, or you could ask, "does my breath stink", and give a little puff. Chances are (but don't count on it) the person might be prompted to check their own breath. My examples tend to beat around the bush. If you prefer a more direct approach but with tact, gift the person mints, mouthwash, or send them emails about causes and cures for bad breath... maybe just send them the cures, then say, I used to have problems with this. Technically, you embarrass them, then make them feel better by embarrassing yourself. I won't suggest joking to them about their problem unless you're funny or witty. Not everyone can pull off a joke. To personal friends of mine, think of our dear friend, Hui Han. Her jokes aren't usually funny. We only laugh when she laughs because she's so damn funny when she laughs.

Anyway, on with discussing "communicating with ninja skills".

While tact is important, we shouldn't confuse it with compromise. They are both very different things. I think our government tells us to compromise because that is key if we want to live harmoniously with one another. But that doesn't solve any problems, does it? It's like a fart, waiting to explode when you can't hold it in any longer.

To quote an American comedy series that is now cancelled, "compromise is a fancy word for losing". That is, to concede to reach an agreement, where there isn't really a win-win situation, when you think about it. We just shuffle off, muttering under our breaths when we experience something we don't like. You see people torturing animals, deep frying live fish as a delicacy, and just say, "Aiyah, that's how it is lah. What can we do?". How many of you would stay and fight for what you believed in? Don't think when I say "fight", I meant to physically assault or argue with someone. I meant it in an abstract way. To shuffle off, is to compromise. To be apathetic, is to compromise. To fight in what you believe in, is to perhaps, champion a cause either through money or physical effort, to educate our young, to live in line with your beliefs. Don't tell people to do something you don't do yourself. Hypocrite. I know I'm one in some instances.

Now that we're clear on what tact and compromise means, we shall move on to one last thing - direction. While Malaysia is not a free country (think: no First Amendment!), it doesn't mean we can voice our grievances like barbarians or children on the internet because we're angry we don't have a First Amendment. The government, they'd be trippin' if they knew. Together with tact, it's always useful to remember to direct your accusations or insults at a specific party, especially when you're heatedly debating about a third person. While this may sound odd, you should consider these points. If you're talking about how Angelina Jolie is a hubby-snatcher, you might want to keep the arrows and pointy swords directed at Angelina, unfortunately for her. You don't want to start insulting your opposition's morals for supporting Angelina. Again, when you're talking about how there's so much war in the world and why can't we all just live in peace (oh the humanity), don't blame the Americans, blame the Bush administration. (While there were those who supported the war and gave Bush the OK-GO, you should consider that maybe Bush was taking advantage of the people's anguish at that time and using it to support the war.) Ideally, there shouldn't be collateral damages in your debate because it is supposed to be directed at a specific person or group. We all know what happens when you start to verbally assault someone and can't control yourselves. It ends with shoving, scratches, bruises or broken somethings. Look at UMNO Youth and their short tempers, Taiwanese parliamentarians and their surging testosterones or little girls powered by their PMSes.

Crazy politicians and sexed up girls aside, what you need to remember: tact, direction and no compromise! Okay lah, maybe a little compromise or we will never reach a resolution, just sitting there butts glued to our uncomfy chairs. Of course, so-called good communication isn't just about those points, you'd want to keep discussions civil and supported by rational arguments. Don't answer a "why" question with "BECAUSE I SAID SO". Only mother's are allowed to say that.

We can only grow to be civil if we are better informed.

Wow, if only I'd spent this much time writing my essay. Frak.


sean said...

LOL your posts are so funny! I really think you should be a columnist in a big newspaper. u'll be famous!

ok now for the brotherly love youre so used to, heres it " beach ! "

sean said...

im serious bout that columnist idea.

Deng, the very eveel genius said...

Sean: Sisterly love! <3 -- You're so stoopid.

Hwey: How did you come up with this shit?! It is damn funny la the convo. How's your essay going? =) I'm outlining it. Progressing very slowly.

cheahwey said...

Oh look at us and our family love... Twats.

I think I'd prefer being my own boss when it comes to writing. You can't say 'shit' in a newspaper in Malaysia.

And you were supposed to be the son who *could* be famous, the fortune teller said.

If you think it's good, share lor. Haha, I just added an Email this! link.. don't know why it didn't come up before. Stupid template.

My essay is not moving at all. I've only just about finish the outline for my short Q&A.