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The Most Dangerous Weapons We Have Are Our Ears And Our Mouths (Or - Why Sometimes It Is "One For The Price Of Two"!)
I have wanted to write a blog post on this subject for a very long time.  However, it is very difficult to write about something you live in the middle of (as well as in fear of) every single day of your life in a dispassionate way.

It was thanks to one of my friends from Twitter posting the following Tweet yesterday that you are about to get the deepest trip into my brain that you have ever been on;

"Saying you are listening then telling the other person they are wrong isn't listening - it's condescending.  Together people can make good changes." (Cate Moore)

Personal experience tells me that the above quote is only half of the truth.

I must admit there have been three occassions when I have been shocked by a comment made by three separate friends from "real life" who have known me for more than a decade (I actually went to Secondary school with one of them).  I say a comment made by three separate friends because it was very close variations of the same comment - the friends have never met each other.

The comment???

"I have learned more about you through reading your blog than I have ever done through talking to you!"

Hmm - they are correct in a way.  (All they have to do now is read on to find out why that is.)

If you have ever spoken to me you will find that I prefer to deal with people one on one or a small group.  If we are in a large group I am usually the one watching what is going on - what the "pecking order" of the group is - and taking my time working out who the dangerous people are.  (That is if I don't already feel defensive and nervous.  In that case - I am usually the one who won't shut up.)

One of my pet hates is being told I am wrong - end of story.  Before you say that most people would say that - I can pretty much guarantee that most people haven't had their lives put at risk as a result of being told they are wrong without being allowed to argue their case.  (I am not talking about people who have fought the Medical Profession and survived a misdiagnosis against the odds because they followed their instincts and argued for a second opinion or different treatments. I am talking about something which - when it happens to you - is much worse.)

I am talking about people in "Authority" who pretend to listen and jump to their own conclusions anyway.  The ones who expect to find me on page 447 of some invisible textbook - along with the exact "cure" for whatever situation I have presented them with - but refuse to listen when I try to tell them that their idea is good in theory but (guess what) I have already tried it and it hasn't worked - and do they really think that I would be in that situation if their idea had worked???

I have got two friends who have been subjected to my "mental chainsaw" for exactly that reason.

I have had to separate them from their job titles because otherwise I just would not be able to deal with them.

Just because one of them happened to be my all-time favourite teacher the fact he was one of my teachers during my time at Secondary school made the transition from "potential threat/enemy" to friend extremely difficult some years later when I started at the Creative Writing group he ran.

I still have the occassional run-in with the other one.  Usually when I think he is behaving in exactly the same way as the "Medical" version of his title.  (I am still amazed that "Medical" Doctors start as "Mr", rise through "Dr", and fall back down to "Mr" - even though some of the Consultant "Mr"s appear to have the same sense of "Thou Art Not Worthy To Be In My Presence" as the "Medical" "Dr"s.) Do you get a feeling that I have a very low opinion of "Medical" Drs???  You would be correct.

We were all born with two ears and one mouth.  This means we should listen twice as hard as we speak.  If we concentrate on listening to the other person we should be able to really "hear" and connect with what they are saying - so we can respond accordingly.

If we enter the discussion with pre-concieved ideas and opinions - and a cast iron conviction that we are correct no matter what - we are at our most dangerous.

If, on the other hand, we enter the discussion with pre-concieved ideas - and a willingness to listen (and ask seemingly really stupid questions in order to clarify things in our own minds) - we are at our most helpful.

A few months ago I got into a Twitter argument with a group of people who had preconcieved ideas about a subject.  When I tried to explain my opinions I was basically told to get lost (in fact, I was practically ordered to stop following the person who had made the original comment if I didn't like what they had said - so much for a healthy debate!!! You may not be surprised to learn that I am still following the person concerned  - and they are a pretty reasonable human).

Remember I said that Cate's tweet was half-correct and that people have had their lives put at risk because of people only pretending to listen???

I have the misfortune of being one of those exact people.  You can descend very quickly from not trusting the first person who does that to you, to not trusting anybody you speak to (never mind whether or not they have done the same thing), to not trusting yourself and your own ideas, to questioning the entire purpose of your own existence - and considering terminating said existence.

The battle to both trust my own mind and trust other people to really listen to me is one I fight daily.

I suppose, if I am totally honest, my experiences with trying to convince people about my life through actually speaking to them is the reason why I am more comfortable communicating with the world in black and white (or whatever combination of ink and paper you choose to print this out with).

Hand me a pen and paper or sit me in front of a keyboard and let me type - then you can read the "printout" of what really goes on in my mind.  At least, that way I know that I can leave you in peace to read my thoughts - as well as not having to wonder what you are likely to say or do to me as a result of my words.

Ask me to tell you verbally how I am really feeling and you had better hope that I trust you with my life, if you really want me to be honest with you that is.  I am not exaggerating when I say that I feel like I am putting my life in your hands whenever I tell you honestly what I am feeling at any given moment.  Yes, yes - I know I left school decades ago but I have been in situations more recently where the same thing happened - the worst one was when I was employed (I ended up having to take time off work through Depression as a result of my treatment by one of my employers).

As I was calming myself down and clearing my head enough to be able to type this blog post I had one of my "musical memories" (as in - a lyric came into my mind from a song).  The "musical memory" thinking about this blog post brought up was a from a song I had almost forgotten about - in fact, I had to check it with someone to make sure the song had actually existed.

The lyric is "you say I don't talk enough - but when I do I'm a fool" from "Unbelievable" by EMF.

The next song - which I ended up searching for on my phone - which came into my mind as I was thinking about this blog post was one of my favourite songs by Ben Williams.  The song is called "The Fall Out" - and there are two separate lyrics which I feel accurately sum up the thread of this blog post;

"Get down from the table - you're too high to pick that fight."

(The original lyrics refer to "high" as in drunk or on drugs - but in this instance I think it would be more useful to put the words "and mighty" after the word "high".)

and

"Are you going all out tonight... Watch out for the fallout."


(Pretty self-explanatory I think???)

So - maybe next time you decide you know what is best for someone else before they even get a chance to open their mouth - please engage ears, engage brain, and disengage mouth until they have finished speaking (or typing if you are on Social Media).  That way - you might actually learn something you can use in future!!! 

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