Last month at Accessibility Camp Toronto I had a number of encounters with people I’ve had conversations with in the past. And for reasons I’ll touch on in a bit, communication between them and I was a challenge. But with the benefit of time, and an email exchange with one of the aforementioned conference participants, finally comes this post today.
I tend to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. Meaning I’m pretty hard on myself when it comes to assigning blame for anything not going as I intend. Or, better still, as I imagine it could. This year’s camp is case in point.
Realistically taking all the blame probably isn’t the most productive of ways to have handled this specific instance – as was put to me by more than one person who had issues understanding me. “Context is everything.” Point taken.
I’m not that loud of a speaker. And being in loud hallways or auditoriums isn’t an ideal place for me to be heard, let alone understood. It’s just I felt at Camp this year, every encounter I had seemed like I was the reason for it feeling a little awkward – whether rightly or wrongly. Thing is, I possess the ability to change. I really should work much harder to take better advantage of it. And I am.
Our worst enemy
However, I appreciate and recognize the challenge a person who is interacting with me has the second they don’t understand what it is that I’m trying to communicate. And it is a challenge. Decent people don’t want to offend. It’s perfectly commendable. But for me it’s that difficulty that makes an interaction, when it’s successful, worth all the effort.
Communication between people who have similar abilities in perception and ability to vocalize isn’t the easiest endeavour at the best of times. Throw in something that’s not run of the mill anywhere into the mix and shit instantly changes. Comfort in ourselves is often the first victim. Our inherent ability to recognize patterns, patterns we are conditioned to recognize specifically, become our worst enemy.
Point being, understanding anything takes time and effort to do accurately. Context is everything. We all need to slow down, take ourselves way less seriously and put a lot more effort into understanding the actual world we live in. It’s likely the initial impression we are left with will not stand up to the scrutiny of time. Time will eventually call all bullshit out.
Let’s meet each other half way
Anyway, I’m getting off topic. Should you ever encounter me in your travels, in real life as it is, you don’t have to humour me. In fact, I’d much rather you didn’t. If you don’t understand anything I’m saying, even if you’re sure you heard me correctly but still don’t get me, I implore you to say “motherfucker, what!?” I’ll gladly repeat myself. However many times it takes to have you understand me. More often than not it requires an alteration in delivery. And I’m more than happy to accommodate. That is, of course, if you’re willing to pay me a little patience. Let’s meet each other half way. Little that is easy to do is ever really worth doing.
And remember not everything can be understood. We live in an imperfect world. But that doesn’t mean any effort to engage shouldn’t be made. What I’m awkwardly trying to say is when someone gives up in their interaction with me I feel like I’ve let that person, as well as myself, down.
We can do better together. Let’s do better together.