At a Toastmasters meeting recently, I did a project speech that involved “Roasting” someone. Roasting is a good natured, humorous, description of a person, and is done in jest.
On the face of it, it appeared simple enough. Till I sat down to write the Roast, that is.
It was then that I realized how hard it is to describe a person’s characteristics, traits, habits, interests, peculiarities, etc., without causing offence or hurt.
It dawned on me that we are too judgmental of others, and often describe them in terms that aren’t always gracious. And, what’s worse, we tend to be critical behind their backs. It is, perhaps, inherent in human nature to adopt a posture, and rigidly stick with it, without consideration of a different side of the other person that one is either unaware of, or one that we choose to ignore for whatever reason.
Once that position is taken, it is hard to alter one’s view or perception.
It also occurred to me that it is possible, if one chooses to make an effort, to look closer at a person, and discover many other interesting facets. It helps to reflect on why a person behaves or reacts in a particular way, and also understand why that person reacts to us in the way he/she does. For, it quite possible that the reaction/response one sees is nothing more than a mirror image of how we ourselves behave and react.
It was a sobering thought.
The person I chose is a very good human being, friendly, warm, cheerful, and helpful. How does one, therefore, roast him in a pleasant and kind manner without causing offence? It was one of the most challenging projects I have ever done as a Toastmaster.
I did manage to do the roast. Towards the end, I also asked the audience, with a smile on my face, if my words reflected their own feelings about the “Roastee”. Many faces around the room broke out into smiles, several hands went up enthusiastically, and I knew that my objective had been achieved.
A senior Toastmaster commented that I had actually honored the Roastee with my words, having chosen him as the subject, and having taken the effort to think and speak with care about the man.
The Roastee was pleased and enjoyed being at the receiving end.
I gained a friend … and a new insight into human behavior and responses.
Humans are curious by nature – some more than others. They want to know about what’s happening. The purpose of wanting to know varies, though. For some, it is a harmless natural curiosity. For others, it could be a need to obtain information that is then used as fodder for gossip. There are others who ask out of concern and a genuine desire to know.
There is the concept of “need to know” as opposed to “want to know”. It is hard, at times, to know where to draw the line when it comes to asking questions. Not surprisingly, this also places the other person in a bit of a spot about what to say and what not to. It gets awkward.
We often forget that our questions could irritate the other person who might wonder about where the line of questioning is leading to. Defenses immediately come up, and we are left with either no answers at all, or a rebuke.
It is important to recognize, however, that it is our fault for asking so many questions in the first place.
Are we going to gain something by asking? Is it relevant to us? Can we do something out of knowing?
If the answer is “no”, then the best approach, perhaps, is to shut up and not ask. In the process, we do not get a rebuke. And the other person does not feel compelled to then answer without causing offence.
It takes time and effort to understand and realize that if it is important, we will surely be told.
It’s been a little over three months since this blog was updated, and the question that came to mind was – Why?
It would be a very simple matter to shrug it off and attribute the delay to inertia, lack of ideas, shortage of time, or, indeed, a lessened interest in adding to whatever is already online.
Other questions popped up. Who reads this blog anyway? Was it created for a personal ego trip? Was it because of a genuine desire to express oneself?
Realization dawned that the fundamental reason for creating this blog was to find an avenue for expression. It was a medium for putting down thoughts to “paper”, so to speak, and transferring what was within the mind into a more visible form. A personal diary of observations, thoughts, views, or merely a light-hearted look at the world and whatever was happening.
There was, in addition, the conscious recognition that the quantity of output was, in some way, correlated to the prevalent mindset, and, perhaps, the mood.
The mind is a strange thing, and, on reflection, it became clear that the inability to “find” things to write about was in direct correlation to the progressive withdrawal into a shell.
One can rationalize, analyze, appraise, and carry out deep self-introspection. The end result is a mass of unconnected signals, none of which come together to form a credible and logical whole. An exercise in near-total futility, in the ultimate analysis.
The thought that finally emerged was that the only way to get out of this moribund frame of mind was to revert to what was the primary objective of creating a blog – the need to express.
Which is what I shall, hopefully, attempt to do on a regular basis.