… interacting through the words with the person who lived the experience.
As people, we tell others things about ourselves, or things we have learned from others, what we have felt, and what we have thought. And, in turn, the listener who hears the story also tells the speaker things that they themselves have experienced, things they have heard from others, what they have felt and thought. Through this exchange, speakers and listeners share their experiences, information, feelings, and opinions. So, what is happening to us through this exchange?
We can listen to others and understand their experiences. But not everyone can have the exact same experience. Each experience is shaped by a variety of factors, including people, places, and time. Besides, the content and feel of the experience will change little by little depending on the when, who, why, and how of the event. Understanding the experience of another person involves taking information about that experience and, through dialogue, attempting to reconstitute it through fragments of one’s own experience.
When we hear the other person’s story, we remember our experience, “Oh, that happened to me too.” And we sometimes sympathize with “I understand. I’ve had the same feeling.” But at other times, we feel different from the other person, or even clash; “Yes, I’ve had that experience, but how did they arrive at that thought? Something’s different.” However, beyond that, you may come to the realization that your partner feels differently because they think differently. You may even discover a brand new way of thinking.
Various people are out there in society, accumulating diverse experiences. When we know the story of one person from a particular group, it doesn’t mean that we understand the experiences of all members of that group. It is important to understand the experience of one person, but it is also important to understand the experiences of another, apparently similar, person as distinct and particular to them. Each group’s world has as many colors and shapes as there are people living there.
Dialogue with others is not just about speaking. Sometimes we interact through the written word. For example, reading the biography of a notable person may give you a hint on how to solve a problem that has you stymied, or it may spur you to want to change your way of life. Regardless of whether they take to form of sounds or letters, words are tools that influence people by telling them something and giving them an opportunity to think new thoughts.