Converting 'Convoluted Conversations' through 'Critical Conversations'...one at a ti
Revolutions are ignited one conversation at a time. One house-hold at a time. And it seriously will require, in my personal view, nothing short of an all-out conversational revolution to set-right and manage the deep seated rot of gender marginalization that has slowly set into the fabric of our Society, over centuries, one prejudice at a time.
We have all experienced or atleast witnessed such 'Convoluted Conversations' day-in and day-out in our lives. Unfortunately, we have often preferred to be mute spectators to these CCs. But, I seriously believe that we need to cerebrally engage each time we witness such Convoluted Conversations and convincingly bring about the desired transformation through - at that very moment, Crucial Conversations.
We come 'face to face' with such Convoluted Conversation when we experience these...
For a working wife to be told by her husband... "Today, is my Sunday... make me my Kingly breakfast". Sure dude. The underlying power message and the unequivocal Domestic social order bereft of the economic home realities is subtly thrown at you. You ignore it. And that is where the transformational journey gets it's set back. Engage in Crucial Conversation to convert this Convoluted Conversation with your husband.
For an I-Banker mom to be told... "Mom, are clothes ironed? I want to discuss some Investment related queries with dad on the breakfast table.. ". Your response should be: No son, you may wear your Ts to school today. I burnt your shirt so that forever you recall that I am the I-Banker with investment knowledge. Your father is an A/c mechanic. Don't please ignore this kid. Engage in Crucial Conversation to convert this Convoluted Conversation with your son.
When you open the door and see your not so frequent neighbor tell you.. "Tumharey mard ko bulao - (call the man of the house)". Sure. Mard ko bhi bulayenge, aap hamey pehley batao huzur, aap ka problem kya hai ? (Sure, I will call the man but first you tell me gentleman, what is your problem? ). Hidden in the neighbors message is another prejudice. Only men can handle Domestic problems once they enter the external arena outside your Apartment lobby into the neighborhood. Don't ignore it. Firmly you need to handle this. Engage in Crucial Conversation to convert this Convoluted Conversation with your neighbor.
Your Boss in the performance review meeting says ... "You come to work in a Mercedes. Whilst you did out-perform others, whatever for are you now wanting that big increase? Your Husband seems to be doing rather very well". Aaaaha ! You were stunned but remained a mute spectator. That way you will lose the battle deeper, one silent moment at a time. Say firmly.. “Excuse me. Did I hear you right? ". No HR policy anywhere in the world tolerates this prejudice. Don’t get stunned. You need to diplomatically engage in Crucial Conversation to convert this Convoluted Conversation with your Manager.
Your parents lamenting when you complain about matrimonial treatment.. "we got you married, girl. Learn endurance. Make it work. Your marriage has come without a ’NO RETURN' Policy". Engage with your parents in Crucial Conversation to convert this Convoluted Conversation. Remind them that they are not the option you had in mind. There were multiple options and you were en9gaging with them only in emotional conversation with them.
In a Shop the salesman tells you... "Aap sirf select karo, bhav taal mein saab se karunga -( you select...for price bargaining I will engage with your Man)". Your response should be a stern - KYON (why)? Engage in Crucial Conversation to convert this Convoluted Conversation with that shop-keeper. Tell him to call the owner, if he has a shortcoming and is unable to partake in commercial negotiations with a lady.
Whilst driving you have a small accident and the Policeman looks at your husband sitting next to you, points and calls out... "tum bahar aao (you step out)". Tell your Husband to Keep sitting. Go out with your papers and speak to the Cop. But don’t let him not realize that he erred by asking him if there was any specific reason he had asked for your Husband to step out when you were Driving? Engage in Crucial Conversation to convert this Convoluted Conversation with the high-street policeman. It will work, one conversation at a time.
You go to a bank to open a new Account and the old man at the counter for no valid accounting reason says..."we will add your name as the second holder". Don't agree. No BANK has any such rule. Engage in Crucial Conversation to convert this Convoluted Conversation with this Banker. Turn around and tell him "is your suggestion backed by your Bank's Customer Policy? ". You will see, it works. One conversation at a time.
You are mixing your first drink and your cousin emerges from somewhere and seriously says "Good Girls don't drink". This 'Good Girl' syndrome of convoluted imagination in a man's mind is a myth that needs to be destroyed. Unfortunately, this GG imagination is extended further by Male boundaries to what Good Girls eat, what GGs wear, where they go, who they mix with...et al. Each time you encounter this GG stereotype, wave out the smart flag.... it is time for you to engage in Crucial Conversations to convert such Convoluted Conversations.
Your car-mechanic calls and wants to speak to your husband. Says "there is some technical problem, I will explain to your husband". Stop him there. Tell him you are the owner and you driver that car. Your husband’s car is working fine. So why does he want to speak to him? Time for you to engage in Crucial Conversations to convert such Convoluted Conversations.
Each night in fulfillment of statutory parental duty your husband asks... "Have children done their homework? ". Time for you to again engage in Crucial Conversations to convert such Convoluted Conversations with your husband. Tell him…" Honey, many years have passed. You may have not realized that both our kids now go to college. And college kids don't do homework! "
After years you meet your old English language teacher on the high street who had insisted upon you to write 'Mr & Mrs' and never 'Mrs & Mr' on the address. Tell her how she was wrong. Tell her that if she had her fair share of crucial conversations with the Society transacted, yet another three decades of such convoluted conversation would not have passed.
I am sure you too may have witnessed many more such convoluted conversations...excuse me, this is not a question for the Ladies. I am asking this question to you, the inclusion seeking - urban Alpha Man. How often have you been a mute spectator to this silent drama of prejudice being played out before you?
Forget your International Women’s' Day speech in which you recalled sacrifices of the Great women in your life. Time for you to forget that speech and engage in such Crucial Conversations whenever you see the drama of prejudice unfold before you.
Remember what Martin Luther King said when he was leading his Revolution -"...in the end what you will remember are not the words of your enemies but the silence of your friends ".
This Wholesale Transformation of Society is going to need all the men in such Crucial Conversations as much as all the women. The journey maybe long and far.
But let’s begin...