Watch and Learn (My Column in Sakal Newspaper)

By Dhiraj Singh

From the cave paintings of early man to the emojis of today, we as humans have been trying to communicate. Trying to keep a record of our feelings, thoughts and brainwaves. What is it that compels us to devise ways of reaching out? Imagine the cave wall as a screen on which the early man was aiming to create a story. How was he different from us posting pictures on our social media pages or making a post. Not much different I would say!

The urge to tell a story is as old as cave drawings, or heiroglyphs, or temple carvings. We have through history been trying to tell stories. Stories have a message—the summary of an experience to others who may have had the same experience but weren’t able to connect the dots in a way that was effective.

This aspect makes us wonder that there have always been people who were more capable than others to jot down their experiences. Someone very wise once said everyone feels things like Shakespeare but only Shakespeare could put them to paper so precisely. This talent of being able to say things that everyone feels but cannot express is a definite talent but it is a talent that can be learnt.

I often say that today's time has made everyone a spokesperson of himself, it is something that differentiates us from our grandparents where mass communication was in the hands of just a powerful few. But the Internet has given that capability to everyone.

However, like I said in my last piece, everyone who has the tools isn't necessarily a good communicator. Good communication comes with good listening. We had our rishis who separated themselves from the crowd to observe nature and the nature of reality. With this glorious isolation they became masters of understanding nature. They wrote epics and treatises on human nature often learning from the creatures of the wild.

I am always moved by the story of Valmiki who was so overcome by the pain of separation of a pair of cranes that he began writing the epic Ramayana which among other things is the story of separation of lord Rama from his beloved wife. It’s a story that has travelled through time because it has been able to capture the deepest of emotions.

The germ of great communication lies in profound observation where a story refuses to leave you and you are compelled to tell it in the best means available to you.

Effective communication is like telling a great story, one that only you are capable of telling. It is an art and science that has to be learnt for no matter how much we are programmed to tell stories we don't become great storytellers automatically, it is something that we learn by observing.

Dhiraj Singh is a well-known journalist, author, artist and TV personality whose latest novel ‘MASTER O’ is a sci-fi political thriller. He is currently Director, School of Media & Communication & The Idea Lab, MIT-World Peace University, Pune


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