Gather In the Silent Spaces

As a second language teacher, I am constantly learning about the nuances of interpersonal communication and have come to conclusions about our universal needs as people when it comes to understanding each other and being understood. In order to communicate, we need to be open to speak up about those things that bother us as they arise in daily life; we also need to be open to hear how our actions affect others.

I have always been acutely aware of my own weaknesses–much more so than my own strengths–which sometimes makes communication challenging because I am apt to blame myself for communication errors, even when other factors might need to be considered. This is perceived as a weakness (and it is indeed a weakness when no personal strengths are remembered). Through my conversations with others from around the world, I have learned that I am not alone in this dilemma. Speaking up about my personal needs is a challenge due to these tendencies. I am learning how to be vigilant about; an exhausting but worthy challenge.

As a “feeling” person according to the Myers-Briggs personality test, I am usually hyper-aware of what others are feeling, or might be feeling and I often have to stop myself from guessing or predicting their needs and desires before they are spoken. This can be a strength because I am usually in tune with others and this causes them to feel welcomed in whatever setting we happen to be. The above dilemma–that of hesitating to speak up about my own feelings–stems, at least in part, from the fact that I read others’ feelings automatically; a part of me, I think, expects others to read mine just as easily.

Due to my hyper-awareness of others’ possible feelings and my sensitivity to my own weaknesses, I find that sometimes those who care about me are hesitant to tell me what they really think–as if I am too fragile to take in the truth or accept any responsibility. In truth, I am the opposite of fragile or weak. Life has brought me through so many unusual challenges that I have developed a deep resiliency that I know will carry me through the rest of my life, whatever it brings.

Though I know my own strength, I still struggle to proclaim it and though I know I am strong and resilient, I still am described by some as weak and fragile. My own personality acts as a barrier against open communication between myself and those I care most about, so I am working to change both the way I listen to others’ verbal communication and the way I communicate with them

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