Thursday, 7 August 2014

Adult relationships

I always assumed that once I left the world of childhood and entered adulthood that finally people would understand how to relate to one another.  Relationships would be fulfilling, or if not, then at least civil.  Understanding would be extended, intentions assumed to be good, and communication would be clear.  I am realizing that what I saw as a flaw of childhood was actually a condition of humanity.

Perhaps it is the complex method through which communication happens.  Getting one thought from one person to another involves on behalf of the speaker: assimilating information, condensing it, choosing language, using tone, and then on behalf of the listener: hearing and discerning, expanding that information, and disseminating throughout the brain to understand it.  The pathway is long and complex and there is much room for error.  I picture the warning sign that pops up on computers that simply says "error!" when you try to give a command that doesn't get through properly.  If only we humans could just as easily discern an error and give the appropriate message, perhaps there would not be nearly the amount of conflict that exists.

But it goes beyond communication.  As if that wasn't complicated enough, we all have such different personalities that I think sometimes we can't seem to find a common ground to stand on.  Sadly, many people don't even want to try.  I think of the number of times I've metaphorically scaled a mountain trying to understand someone else's point of view, and find myself blocked by a big "no entry" gate as the other person is unwilling to try and discuss the issue.

My own weakness lies in listening.  To truly understand someone you have to truly listen.  Too many times I find myself waiting for a pause in a sentence so I can jump in with my thought.  Too often I find myself wishing they would see what I was saying, since I was obviously right.  I trust my own mind a little too much, unwilling to admit I might be wrong, or at least that we both might be right in different ways.

I suppose if it was all worked out there would be no growth in relationships.  Certainly when two people learn to have a meaningful discussion their relationship deepens another step or two.  And there is no doubt that we as humans always need another good dose of humility, cultivating the ability to accept the ideas of others and our own fallibility.

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