A few days ago, a friend of mine made a comment that went something like this: It’s very difficult to communicate today…there doesn’t seem to be any communication without bias.
I think he’s right.
Sometimes the bias is very intentional and obvious. But sometimes we think we’re posting from a “neutral” position–but someone else may read (or hear) what we’re saying and feel that we’re communicating from a specific perspective and attacking a particular statement/policy/belief/person. I’ve experienced that myself–from both sides.
I think it is possible to work at avoiding intentional biases if we really want to communicate with someone else.
But I’m not sure that we can ever avoid all bias when we are sharing. After all, we are each speaking from what we’ve experienced…what we’ve grown up “knowing”…what we’ve learned from our parents or our faith traditions or our political understandings… And all of that has impacted us and made us into who we are.
So how do we get past that? How can we learn to truly communicate with each other?
It’s not going to be easy.
It’s going to require each of us to take an honest look at ourselves…our language…our word choices. It means sometimes taking a deep breath…looking beyond the words to what someone is trying to share…asking for clarification. It means trying to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes.
Too often we don’t want to do that. We are convinced that what we have said is clear–if someone else just listens. We don’t want to take another look…and consider that we may be part of the communication problem.
I know. I’ve been there.
Taking an honest look at oneself is uncomfortable. It’s much easier to blame someone else for not understanding what we think is so very clear.
I don’t think communication without bias is ever completely possible. But if we’re aware not just of someone else’s biases but also our own, we might find ourselves being able to communicate in spite of our biases. I sincerely hope so.