How much do "we" see how contextual our vocabulary is, and how much work are we willing to do to hear and understand each other?
If you're in the USA and liberal, imagine a conservative says the word "rights". Or if you're on the conservative side, imagine a liberal says the word "privilege". Do you think you can speak to them, and be heard? How much work do you think you'd need to invest first in talking about what those words mean to the two of you first?
Here's a more clear example: Suppose you see a rant about "socialism" in the context of government policies responding to the pandemic. How many options would you go down this list before things start getting productive?
- you are wrong, you dumb redneck
- your claim is wrong, these things are good and not bad
- your values are wrong, you care about your guns more than people's lives
- your definition is wrong, that's not what socialism even is
Number 4 might be tempting but, nothing productive yet! Now let's shift out of argumentation:
- I don't understand how you see the world that way
- I don't understand why you'd think these things are bad
- I don't understand why these concerns seem to outweigh these other concerns
- I don't understand how you connect these small things to this bogeyman of socialism
Obviously less combative, but oops! Still perceived as an attack, and the other person digs in defensively. Let's rewind and keep trying:
- Can you share why you buy into this Fox News worldview?
- Can you share about what the word socialism means to you?
- Can you share about why these specific things are such a big deal to you?
- Can you share more about what you're feeling?
Maaaybe by the time we reach number 4 here, if the other person trusts your intentions, is interested in mutual engagement, and isn't already so activated that they can't step out of their emotions enough to describe them... things might proceed in a productive fashion.
I'm pointing in the direction of the stack of meaning and sense-making here, which proceeds upwards in this fashion:
- bodily sensation
- expression using language
...and there's a loop-back from 4 to 2, and from 3 to 1, so multiple layers of unconscious and conscious sensation is involved. When words are coming out at 5, they already have stories attached to feelings attached to contexts attached to identities.
I'm not going to keep going into how to get "underneath the words" with NVC, Authentic Relating, or anything else at the moment. But I do want to point out how many traps lay between normal text/online interaction, and actually hearing each other in a way that matters.