What are communication skills and how do we need to work on ours?
Have you ever noticed how we Iranians (of course not all of us!) speak our minds? I have a friend who uses the term “back-door language politics!” What is that? After you read this article and have a chance for clarity, you might agree with me. I am interested in listing every single example of how we can speak our minds more clearly, straightforwardly, respectfully, and positively without offending anyone!
Why are we not direct in saying what we want and how we feel?
The ways in which we describe how we feel, think, behave, act, or even respond to the tasks of life, often become long stories that make the listener tired.
Why is that?
Of course, it isn’t because we do not possess the skills of speaking. No, it’s because there exists a cloud of culturally structured inhibition that stops us from speaking our minds out loud.
We have been always stopped one way or another from being outspoken. Women are said to be khanom, meaning gracious, when they are silent; children are “polite” and “disciplined” when they conform to everything. Being a Khanom also is about not expressing any desires, not having any wishes, and not feeling the importance of self.
Men are raised to be the spokes-persons of the family, because women traditionally are considered to be ones who need protection from men. Men are also raised to be “men” meaning not having any feelings and emotions. Being a “man” in our culture means to suffer alone, to not feel pain, to not cry, to not complain.
We have many good examples of Iranian men who are “real” men and who work hard to raise their families and be the father figures that they are!
We have been sentenced to death, forced to leave our communities, and called many names for being outspoken and expressive. In past times, all our writers, poets, actors, and activists have been labeled and re-labeled, because they choose and have chosen historically to speak their minds and because they did not abide by the cultural stop signs!
These experiences have taught us to use metaphors, poetry, narratives, quotes from unreal sources, or even examples of others who have gone through similar situations, to say something about our inner fears, insecurities, and unhappiness.
Communication is a basic life skill. We view ourselves in the mirrors of other people’s eyes. We need to see confirmation and belonging in those mirrors. We say things to make other people happy, to show how good we are, because we fear to be viewed differently!
We never say how we really think, we agree with people for trivial yet we have pivotal differences in our opinion. We find similarity and commonality with others, yet we do not mention it. We can not communicate properly because we have always been what to do next, how to feel next, and how to manage our life in future that is not here. Communicating properly is an art.
This is why many times we do not say what we really mean.
It is hard for us to say, No, thank you”, first because we become bombarded with Taaroof politic, second because we have not learned to say that, and third because other people will find us rude!
We are raised to adhere to everything; we have to accept what is forced upon us, without saying a word, without opposing, and without having any self rights!
How are we communicating in our multicultural style of life?
April 25, 2007