The decadence of reciprocity

rejection

John and Jane have met at a social event a day ago and since then, they have been communicating. 

However, Jane stopped her correspondence abruptly and no explanation was provided. John – on his end – also could not identify the reason why the correspondence has come to a sudden halt..

********* 

Lenny and Jessica have been gone on a date and Jessica mentioned that she is currently learning the ukulele. After that date, Lenny SMSed Jessica, asking her about the differences between the ukulele and the guitar. It took Jessica two to three days to respond. Figuring that she was busy, Kenny waited for a few days before asking her why she has chosen to learn the ukulele instead of the guitar. This time, Jessica failed to respond entirely..

********

Nicholas met one of his college high school friends ,Kenny, at a gym, and they began chatting.

Upon hearing that Kenny has been meeting up with a few of their classmates, Nicholas was overjoyed and they exchanged contacts.

After simply one SMS to Kenny, asking him to inform should there be another meet-up, Kenny did not response and Nicholas sent another SMS to remind. Again, there was no response from Kenny..

********

Frank and Ginny have been out on a first date and it has been great. 

On their way home, Frank was thinking of spending more time chatting with Ginny to know her better but she spotted a few of her friends a few feet away and told Frank that they should part ways there and then as she wanted to join her friends. 

*******

In each of the situations above, it can be observed that there is an attempt to end a correspondence, the reason of which is unfathomable and enigmatic.

It seems that silence is a common way to respond in contemporary times.

However, unlike in the past, where silence is often given as a response when one is pondering on a decision, silence is now used as an alternative for rejection.

Nevertheless, when silence is used in this instance, the rejected party is left wondering what went wrong and sometimes, it is simply not socially appropriate to seek to probe or pry into the reasons for the rejections.

Open communication is scarce and it is not too far off the mark to say that open communication is  – in fact- a lost art.

In a contemporary society where silence is used as a tool to deliver rejection,  it’s not surprising that receivers use indifference as gloves to receive it.

Personal Recount Writing #1

Out of the various writing genres, personal recount writing (that is, writing that uses the first-person perspective using the pronoun “I”) is – more often than not – the more interesting writing style. While the story may be contained or even confined within the psyche and understanding of the main protagonist who is the writer, the personal narrative adds a personal touch to the story seldom seen in other writing styles.

Below is a piece of writing which I will like to share with all of you. I hope that you enjoy this.  In my next article, I will provide some insights on the ways that this writing works in terms of literary writing devices and the style that the writing is structured.

Topic:

A Daring Venture

I am an introvert by nature.

I like solitude and I love staying in my room reading books or listening to Jazz or New Age music. I get to have a world of my own without the intrusion of others. I relish the moments of insights as I agree with the thoughts of an author or meditate under the tune of soft music. Yes, this is my world – and I am loving it.

However, there is a hefty price that I pay.

My social circle is small, as I do not socialise often. My friends do not know me well, as I did not put in the effort to know them well.  I do not get invited to parties often because I almost always turn down every invites that I receive. I do not know how to communicate as I only communicate with myself in my head.

And then, one day, everything changed.

Or rather, you can say that a book that I have read changed everything.

I can still recall the title of the book vividly despite all these years.  The title is “How to have a chance encounter that will change your life”. When I first set my eyes on the title in the library prior to borrowing it, I thought the title was plain, simple and almost self-explanatory. I did not know what attracted me to the book but somehow, I was mesmerised by it.  I did not know what effects the content of the book would have on me but I loved it anyway. Psychology is never my forte but still, the title held my interest.

Perhaps this is preordained. I do not know.

I have a strange feeling about this book. As mentioned, I am not new to books. I have read books of almost every topic available but most merely increase my knowledge.

This title is different. It mesmerised me like never before.

I placed the book on the table and flipped to the first page:

“Observation skills are not only to be learnt but to be practised. You must act on what you have learnt. Then the skills you learn will change your life – forever. “

The sentence stared back at me and I felt a sense of anticipation.

Change my life? How is that possible?

I began to read the first paragraph.

Perception wraps reality. We are trapped by our mental conceptions until we free ourselves from them by observing reality and understanding the formation of perceptions through them. And being observant is the bridge joining the two…..

From that day on, I began to practise my observation skills.  And I began to notice things I have never noted before – the type of clothes that others wear, the colour of the tie that matches a shirt, the different type of greeting gestures that others display, the various types of smiles that either reveal or hide emotions. And through these, I began to map out the various perceptions I have of them, as well as having a good gauge of the perceptions held by them. In other words, I began to understand the worlds of others and how my world relates to theirs. Over time, I began to connect with them psychologically, but not in a interpersonal kind of way, if you know what I mean.

Then one day, it happened.

I was sitting on a seat in a train when I noticed that a lady dressed in a yellow dress was seated across from me. She is in her early twenties. Her yellow dress was prominent but that was not what attracted my attention.  Rather,  it’s the ruby necklace she wore that was interesting. I have seen that necklace before, at a jewellery store. It was from Paris, France. I always have an interest in stones, and ruby is among them.

“Observe aspects of others carefully. What stands out is the obvious. But it’s the similarity that connects.” 

I am beginning to understand this sentence.

The lady suddenly noticed me looking at her and she returned the gaze, smiling while doing so. It was awkward to have somebody looking at me with interest as that has not happened to me for quite a while.

But the distance between us was far. There are many passengers standing and moving along in the train and our eye contact is constantly being cut intermittently by the passing bodies. I noticed that she has the tendency to look away and then back at me again, as if we are caught in a game of hide-and-seek.  It was not long before I did the same. The passing crowd between us becomes our hiding posts and for a while, we indulged in a match of peekaboo.

Instant and continuous connection is fleeting. Intermittent communication with silences and absence in-between is key to sustaining a resilient relationship. We need to give each other space to rejuvenate and to recharge. Observe this in your interactions with others. 

True to its words, our switching attention from the moving crowd to ourselves are – in a strange way – sustaining our continued interest in each other. But still, none of us make a move to go forward and start a conversation.

A connection is not deliberate. A connection just happens. There are people whom we are meant to meet in this life but we have to notice them through our astute observation if we are to really meet them. Placing your eyes on the pages of your book won’t do. Closing your eyes and listening to the music blasting out of your earphones is worse. Open your eyes and look around. See who is attracted to you and why you are sustaining their attention. That is the point.

As the train neared my stop, I stood up sadly and headed for the exit door to her right. How many times have I brushed shoulders with someone whom I have a connection with but never have the opportunity to connect? It’s uncountable. I sighed with disappointment with my eyes glazed over and looking at my own reflection in the glass panel in front of me.  And then the image of the lady appeared behind my left shoulder, looking at me and smiling.

I smiled back.

No matter how great is the possibility of an encounter, there will come a point where you have to initiate contact. Shyness will impede you at this stage. Hesitation will destroy your courage.  Fear will draw you back.  Only confidence and a desire to know someone new will push you forward to take that initiative to start that life-changing conversation.”

“Hi!” I greeted her.

“”Hi!” She greeted back.

“I like that necklace of yours. I know where you have bought it.”

“Is that so? Haha! So, where did I buy it?”

“Well, is there a prize if I got it right?”

Both of us burst out laughing.

And the rest is history.

Humour is the prescription for nervousness. A right dose of it at the right moment can work miracles for any new social interactions. The trick is to know what to say, how to say, how much to say and when to say it.

Today, Jenny is my best friend and we still go out often. I am not sure if I can call these dates but for now, I know that if I had not put in the effort to read the book, I would never have found a soul mate.

When you have known somebody through a chance encounter on your own initiative, you know you have the  power to widen your social circles and create change in your life.

And when you have done it once, you know – deeply in your heart – that you can always do it again.”

Be a People Dancer

What is dance?

Dance is the movement of vitality, the celebration of life, the echoes of emotions.

It can be done in solitude or it can be performed with a partner or in groups. One can totally immerse oneself in the graceful ballet movements of an adagio, engage in a sensuous embrace that only Argentine Tango’s Sentada can offer or dance away to the rhythm of a tap dance. Regardless of the dancer’s companion or the types of dance that they engage in, the dancers are always at ease with themselves and their environment. They face life, embrace life and love life.

Seen in this light, dance is the true metaphor of life.

But dance – no matter how graceful or elegant it looks or seems to be – do not last long. When the dancers bow, the light dims and the curtain falls, the performance would have come to an end. While the dance performers may be awarded a standing ovation by their audiences,  it cannot be denied that the audience’s appreciation is the farewell gift that closes the night.

This is where dance separates from life. Dancers’ passion are lifted up by the enthusiasm of their audiences. When it comes to life, we should lift up others’ passions with our enthusiasm.

There is a group of individuals who live their lives engaging in other people’s passions. They love to hear stories of adventures from others, understand the passions and interests often lying dormant in them. They are the catalyst that unleash the potential and talent in others, enabling others to know that they are bigger than life, and that anyone can achieve their dreams if they want it badly enough and if they try hard enough. They give others hope when there seems none to be given.

These individuals are what I call the People Dancers.

But it is important to note that people dancers are not “yes-men” or sycophants. They do not pander to people’s every whims and fancies. They are not chameleons who switch personalities at will to win favours from others.  And they are definitely not spineless beings who thrive on flattery.

On the contrary, People Dancers are strong, determined and love others for who they are while not forgetting themselves in the process.

People Dancers have dreams and life goals. And they will stop at nothing to accomplish them. However, they also understand that life is too boring to tread on alone. They need companions, in the same way that the hobbit Frodo Baggins requires companions in his quest to destroy Sauron‘s ring in The Lord of the Rings.  They understand that more can be achieved through teamwork and collaboration than sheer individual efforts alone.  And the only way to achieve strong rapport with others besides having a single goal is to help others achieve their dreams. And to do that, they need to understand the interests and passions of others.

So, People Dancers dance with the people, dance with their passions and dance with their lives. They are willing to lend a listening ears to others, place themselves in the shoes of others and go the extra mile to help them achieve their dreams. And all this, they do them with sincerity and with a moral code that everything that they do are beneficial to both themselves and to others – bringing no harm whatsoever to anybody, be it physically or psychologically.

People dancers are not born as one. They are nurtured into one- which means that any one can be one.

Be one.

Good communicators will not let their intentions be open to interpretations

interpretation

The communication process is complex. When we are communicating with others, understanding them is not as simple as having good listening skills. We do listen to the words that others are saying. However, we also observe the behaviour of others and interpret their body language. At the same time, we also made an effort to draw references from other’s body language, connect it to what they are actually saying and then read between the lines. I believe that others are also going through the same process to understand us. 

Most of us are able to do this well over time with practice. However, there’s something that we often failed to take into account in our communications with others: the ability to convince others of our intentions. It’s interesting to note that despite our best intentions to communicate to others of our intentions through our words and actions, there’s a possibility that others will still misunderstand us.

The reason lies behind a simple fact that while we only have the best intentions when we inform others of our intentions to do something, others usually have numerous interpretations to our actions, and often their considerations goes way beyond the intentions that we have mentioned.

Let’s consider a simple example.  A couple Peter and Jane is out to watch a movie. After walking out of the theatre, Peter commented that the movie is lousy. Now, several thoughts might be going through Jane’s mind, such as:

  • Is going to the movies a bad idea?
  • Is our outing not going well today?
  • Is Peter tired of going out with me?
  • Is Peter facing some personal issues and hence in a bad mood?
  • Is our relationship having some issues?

Do note that this is not an issue specific to gender as it could easily be Peter asking himself the same questions should Jane be the one commenting that the movie is lousy. What I want to highlight is not the person who made the comment but how a simple comment is able to lead to numerous interpretations.

There are two things that Peter should do at this juncture, and any delay in doing so will probably result in a misunderstanding that will lead to increased friction in his relationship with Jane in the near future. So, what are the things that Peter should do?

Firstly, Peter should explain why he said that the movie is lousy. This will clear any doubts that Jane has when she heard his comments. At the same time, it will remove all the assumptions that Jane has regarding his comments. While providing a reason for one’s comments seems a simple enough gesture, it’s interesting to note that some of us never bother to explain. This is especially so when parties are communicating in a hierarchical structure. Teachers communicating to students in the classroom, parents talking to their children at home or supervisors instructing their subordinates in the workplace are good examples. Because we feel that we are in an authoritive position, there’s a tendency to make this mistake of not mentioning about the reasons behind the statements that we make, which is usually a costly mistake. In the absence of reasons, we lost trust, create misunderstandings and ultimately lose the rapport we have with others over time. Yes, it’s that serious.

Besides providing a reason for this remark, Peter should also make an effort to express acceptance both in his speech and body language while ensuring that he is sincere in doing so. Doing so is harder than merely giving a reason. There are no hard and fast rules to showing sincerity, and it’s difficult to describe in words how it’s done. Sincerity is best expressed through body language, and there are several crucial areas that good communicators always take note of. This includes eye contact (maintaining eye contact when communicating), smile (a sincere smile always build rapport with the other party. The challenge lies in showing it) and in this case, the use of proxemics (by staying close to the person, one is showing acceptance rather than rejection. Do refrain from being too close as it might create a sense of discomfort, even for couples in the initial phrase of dating). Peter can also use words to express acceptance, such as making an effort to maintain further contact with Jane by suggesting another date, expressing interest in her well-being etc.

To conclude, I will say that to be good communicators, we should never allow our intentions to be openly interpreted by others.  And the only way that we can prevent this from happening is to inform others about our intentions ourselves through our speech and actions with the utmost sincerity.