No one is without insecurities. Each individual grows up deciding and filtering his or her own likes and dislikes; it could be about themselves or the environment they are surrounded with. Insecurities open windows for vulnerability, yet being vulnerable is the key substance to growing a meaningful relationship.
In “We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations that Matter” and “So You Want to Talk about Race”, Celeste Headlee and Ijeoma Oluo respectively argue that creating and developing a meaningful relationship is achievable with perseverance, persistence, and humility.
In her article about “We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations that Matter”, Headlee emphasizes a variety of ways to start a meaningful conversation, while in “So You Want to Talk about Race”, Oluo emphasizes how to further a meaningful conversation. It is a universal knowledge that some individuals are more outgoing than others due to having more extroverted over introverted traits. Therefore, initiating and maintaining communication could be a challenge. The context of challenge in each author’s text differs.
Headlee discusses initiating a conversation, while Oluo emphasizes braving taboo topics. Nevertheless, both focus on being more interactive and social rather than individualistic. According to Headlee, an individual does not have to have “common interests” in order for him or her to start a conversation. In fact, the differences between individuals are one of the ways Headlee claims as a tool to start a conversation. All that the individual needs are to “be curious” and have “respect”. This informs the readers that he or she should take initiative and bring his or her differences as a topic of conversation that could possibly lead to a meaningful relationship.
Similarly, Oluo emphasizes having “respect” before advancing a relationship into a deeper and more intimate level. This is because no one is comfortable to talk about taboo or racial topics as it is too sensitive. The author guarantees that “screw[ing] this up royally” is unavoidable and will happen “more than once” (Oluo, 45). However, she emphasizes that “it is worth the risk” and people should “commit to trying again” (Oluo, 51). Thus, perseverance is needed in order to stay courageous throughout the conversation, especially being in such a vulnerable state. This sends a message for the readers to understand that respect is the most important essence in initiating a conversation, regardless of the situation. By having respect, it could help prevent a conflict that rises due to arrogance and self-pride.
Additionally, both authors put forth that bias could perceive to be the seed of a conflict. It is commonly agreed upon that a judgmental person is a bad person. However, there is a difference between “judging” and “judgmental”. It can be defined that the word “judging” refers to the ongoing action of “judge”, while “judgmental” refers to a personality trait or attitude. According to Inc. Magazine, a scientific research was conducted by Scientist Simon Makin regarding how fast do people judge. It was deduced that people “make split-second judgments of character traits like trustworthiness and competence in a tenth of a second”. This shows that judgments are unavoidable and inevitable. Therefore, it is understandable when both authors state it is important to “check your bias” before delving into a conversation. By checking bias prior to the conversation, it helps to acknowledge the prejudices an individual has against the other. Moreover, it can help prevent or decrease the probability of conflict arising between the participants. With the presence of prejudices, the individual would not be able to fully accept the gravity of the situation and absorbs the life essences that can be derived from having a meaningful conversation. As a result, this teaches readers to be humble and prepared in life because for every hurdle conquered, a greater reward would be sowed.
Lastly, the most important aspect of communication is to listen. It is important to understand the power of listening. Listening does not require any feedbacks nor movements. It simply asks for attention and acceptance. It is crucial to understand that it requires a lot of courage for a speaker to open up and share his or her personal life experiences, especially memories that are very sentimental. Thus, the least that could be done for the speaker is to listen and appreciate his or her bravery and effort for going out of his or her comfort zone. By listening, it creates the practice of holding back the urge to cut a conversation in order to input self-ideas or opinions regarding the subject discussed. This is most important when as the listener, we start to feel uncomfortable or defensive. For instance, when cutting off a conversation by saying “I understand”, this changes the focus of the conversation to yourself. This unintentional move could post to be an issue as the speaker might feel underappreciated. Even though it is the human’s natural instinct to defend himself or herself whenever he or she starts to feel attacked, we are the master of our body. It is imperative to keep and check that our emotions are under control. If emotions do get in the way, it could complicate the matter and cause things to go out of proportion. Therefore, it is better to stay silent and listen well. It opens up opportunities to learn more insights as we let ourselves be emerge in the content of the conversation. This is because to listen “does not mean you are agreeing with them”, rather the “purpose of listening is to understand” (Headlee, 64).
In conclusion, both Headlee and Oluo put an emphasis on communicating and initiating conversation rather than staying individualistic. Headlee discusses with the concept that differences could post to be the start of a conversation. It is not necessary to have common grounds or interests in order to have a meaningful communication. Contrastingly, Oluo highlights the idea of braving taboo topics, such as race. Despite the differences, both authors encourage readers to practice perseverance, persistence, and humility when engaging in a conversation. The world is a place of constant interactions between people to grow closer and understand more about each other.