Thursday, January 22, 2015

Rationalise out of the defensive mode

Oh, look at how time flies! The last time I blogged was 2 months ago. And I just turned 22 last Christmas! :)

Ok the reason I stopped blogging for these past 2 months was because  I was busy saving the world right after the last post, I had a supervision with a King's College supervisor. I got the worst-ever feedback for my essay and some nasty comments on my language. It affected my self-confidence for quite a while. I almost cried but I thought, wait a minute, keep calm and take a step back. Was she trying to help or was she just enjoying the position to criticise a vulnerable soul here?

To be honest, it is very easy, as a foreign student, a minority in this society to take this as a case of racism. Every time when you not treated the way you wanted,  it is easy to feel you are discriminated against by a local. It is easy to go into that defensive mode and start crying wolf, or scream something like 'you racist th*at!' But if you take a step back, breathe and analyse the whole situation, very often it is not a case of racism. One, you can't always get the thing you want, regardless of race, religion, great wealth or background associated with the royal blood. erm...maybe you can but that's not the point. Two, there are rude and inconsiderate people in all communities! When they are rude, that doesn't mean they are against your whole race. They are just, being human. Unless you have a concrete evidence, explicitly or implicitly but very clear, that you are being unfairly treated because of your background, it is never a good idea to take things into the 'racism' realm, because it will never get your problem solve, and if anything else, it'll get blown up to a completely different argument, involving the whole population of two races. What's the point?

As the supervisor was rambling on how terrible it is for the College to admit a student like me, I thought why should I take these criticisms this way? She's trying to help here, and even though she could have put those criticisms in a more constructive way, her intention was clear - to teach me and to make me a better student. Listen to her words clearly, her criticisms were based on the mistakes I made on paper, and not any statement she made was against my background or my identity. It was clearly not a case of racism. So as these thoughts were running through my mind, I smiled and gave her my director of studies' contact details. She emailed him, he emailed me and we arranged another supervision to help me in improving my writing skills. I was extremely glad because I got my decade-old confusion in grammar resolved and an English language lesson from a Cambridge expert, tailored to me, for free. Hey, private language classes aren't cheap! (Still a Malaysian at heart!)

Note to self: When facing criticisms and accusations, we go into a hyper-defensive mode immediately and start denying and fighting back mentally/verbally every single thing the person says. But try to put ourselves into another person's shoe the next time: each of us has a very unique background and myriad of distinct encounters in our life; each of these pieces inevitably forms the filter through which we see our world. On top of our 'just brilliant' ability to communicate clearly in this modern world, misunderstandings are often a result of inability to see from another person's point of view. Empathy  is the way to go! However, to truly understand another person's point of view will take a hell lot of time and energy. And obviously, it is not possible to do that with every acquaintance. Knowing this fact, an easier way in getting around this problem is, not to let your emotions take control and dive into defensive mode immediately the next time you face criticisms/accusations. Take a step back. If you can't rationalise on the spot, then move away until you can think through the situation properly, then only go talk it through. So...when facing criticisms and accusations, it's a good time to practise empathy!

Happy Week 2!

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