Our Thoughts

Can We #PlsTalk?: A self-reflection.

It was around 6 years ago, when I was sitting across this particular college guy who was standing in front of me, trying to make his speech.

He stuttered along the way, said Hello, Good Morning, and went to silence, then he returned to his seat. It was supposed to be a debate speech, but all I saw were trembles, stutters, and nerves.

It was his first speech, and it happened again and again for a few times. So I decided to sit down together with him, and talk about what broke his confidence so badly.

In less than 15 minutes, he broke down in tears. “My parents never acknowledge me for what I did, and I have always felt that I am a failure because my parents compared me to others and said that I am a failing child.”

I was speechless. How come that kind of words ever got out of a mouth of a parent?

But that was the bitter reality of many surrounding us. It speaks beyond the expectations, hopes and wishes of parents over the idea of “successful children” – it is about communication issues, it is about the failure of culture that doesn’t allow us to speak – simply because parents and seniors and whoever more “advanced” – are always more righteous than most of us.

How would you exactly expect a child to respond in light of such condescending words?

And it isn’t the only problem surrounding actual talking challenges.

The Groupthink phenomenon, for instance, highlighting the fact that a lot of people tend to be the yes man. “I’d like to say something else, but I’ll say yes anyway.” Happens all the time. As a result, business or any other matter productivities decline, simply because there are lack of meaningful ideations along the process of discussion, hence stagnancy is happening in a lot of organizations. There were much lesser engagements and conversations allowed.  

George Bernard Shaw, a famous philosopher, once said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” Well said, as we tend to have much communication bias surrounding us. People expect that they know the best and the worst of someone, hence people assume. A lot. “I thought that’s what you mean.” Is a very common sayings when people miscommunicate – and often, it has lead to dangerous risks appearing on the table – from simple conflicts to actual monetary loss.

Is it really that simple, miscommunication?

Not exactly. If it so happens that the damage is small, then it will be completely dismissed. But here’s the thing: many of these small damages accumulate, because communication challenges relate heavily to one single actor that creates more damages (or improvements): the humans.

I’ve heard a lot about people divorcing because of these. I’ve heard a lot about many companies facing serious financial loss because of these. I’ve heard lives ruined because people assume – one way to another.

There might be not many comprehensive reports and researches on these, but it’s simply because this is the issue people often disregard.

Imagine the world when we can actually manage conflicts. Talk it out. Speak it out. Engage with others. We may fight, but we understand each other – to say the least of its benefits. We will be able to identify people’s wishes properly because we ask, not assume. Because we seek clarifications, we do not simplify. And because we keep to the perspective of others’ shoes, not simply wanting to keep it to our own so-called “level of understanding”. We do beyond.

This is a simple call.

Can We #PlsTalk?


This is Bryan Gunawan’s little piece of thought. He has coached more than thousands of individuals of all age sectors ranging from 6 year-olds to 70 year-olds in communication & leadership in the last 8 years, and is in the process of writing the book “Can We #PlsTalk?”, unveiling stories of his cause for communication prowess to solve life challenges. Find him at twitter @bryangunawan.

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