A couple of weeks ago, I noticed I was starting to develop a stutter. It arose whenever I talked to my friends, my family, and even my coworkers. When it first began, I didn’t know what to make of it and did the worst thing I could have done: I googled it. It should come as no surprise that what I got off of Google was quite disturbing. It said the stutter could be a sign of a brain tumor. Wow!
Upon further evaluation, I determined that the stutter was a mental block that had developed due to some hard conversations I’d been having with different people. In the span of a week, I had engaged in conversations about white supremacy and the horror that unfolded in Charlottesville, VA, as well as our LGBT brothers and sisters. Neither conversation went very well at all. During one, I spoke with several people where I was the only one on my particular side of the conversation, and in the other I ended up getting into an argument with a guy that I thought shared my perspective.
I mention these conversations only because they allowed me to evaluate what my motivation was for getting into these discussions. Actually, I didn’t willfully evaluate them. My best bud James asked me what my motivations were and it made me think – why was I getting into these discussions? Was I trying to educate others on topics I care about such as white privilege and the LGBT community? Was I trying to show people I know more than them? Was I trying to get others to flip over to my side, or was I simply arguing to argue for something?
The truth is, it was probably a little of all of those things. I wasn’t actively thinking about my internal motivations, but I am positive my ego and personal agenda crept in as I was having the conversations. The problem is that I was causing more division than anything else. Even when I thought I was trying to unify everyone, all I was doing was driving a wedge between my friends and me. I’m not saying I should have abstained from having these conversations, but I most definitely should have evaluated my motivation for having a conversation and planned out my side a little better.
The other aspect I lacked in these conversations was empathy. My other best bud David pointed this out. I certainly didn’t take the time to try to see things from their perspective, which caused me to not listen to them as well as I should have. I was planning out my next hard-hitting sentence while they were talking, because in my mind if I just phrased my side better then they would understand. This is obviously the wrong approach to any conversation, and it took me developing a stutter to realize this. I must be extremely dense.
So, I write all of this as an attempt to open up to all of you. I am trying to do this more and more, and part of that is admitting my faults to however many of you are reading this. As we say on our podcast, I do not have the answers necessarily, but I am willing to discuss what the possible answers are. Ever since these things were pointed out to me, I have been able to have far better conversations with the people close to me. I guess it only took me not being able to talk for a while to be able to effectively communicate with other people.