Don’t just talk about the other – talk with the other
The other refers to any person whom we consider as distant from, even hostile to, us. Talking about the other means talking with various people about that person. Talking with the other means talking directly with that person to address our concerns.
All of us are distinct individuals with our own blind spots and sore spots. When we work together, often these spots rub against each other, creating friction that can degenerate into disruption. While we can’t avoid differences, we can avoid disruptions. Most relationships can be improved with clear communication, wherein proper clarifications are sought and got. Thereby, we understand each other’s sensitivities and take due care around them.
Most relationships can be improved with clear communication, wherein proper clarifications are sought and got.
However, such communication and clarification can’t take place if we talk with everyone except that person, as happens when we complain about that person to others. No doubt, we can talk with others in appropriate situation such as when they can act as mediators or can help us better understand the other person or can serve as confidential vents for the release of our inner emotional pressure cooker. But if such talking is done indiscreetly, it often makes things worse, not better. If that person comes to know about what we have spoken, they may think that we have been backbiting. Washing someone’s dirty linen in public certainly doesn’t endear us to that person. Though it may compel them to externally clean up their act, internally they may resent us, and that resentment will come out later in unexpected ugly forms.
Pertinently, the Bhagavad-gita (17.15) urges us to avoid talking in ways that agitate others. Backbiting, or even the perception of backbiting, is likely to agitate others. By choosing to sensitively talk with them instead of resentfully talk about them, we can contribute constructively to healing the relationship.
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