Sunday, March 17, 2013

Those ‘Scary Russians', a story created in language


When I first met my husband he could not speak much English, this was due to the fact that he was from Russia and had only been in Australia a short time. It wasn’t long before I introduced him to my friends who immediately related my husband to the KGB. After all isn’t that where most people in Russia work, and if they are here in Australia, they must be spies. That is proberly because many of us were ‘bought up’ on the propaganda that Russians are ‘scary’. Think about all those spy movies, in particular James Bond in ‘From Russia with Love’ or the 1963 Cold War spy novel by British author John le CarréThe Spy Who Came in from the Cold’. Then there is Stalin, the Russian mafia (hard core criminals) and Vodka, and of course Soviet Russia used to be enemy with the USA during the long years of the cold war.

The other day my son sent me the following youtube link. I invite you to watch it and see how this story about ‘Scary Russians’ plays out

So what is going on here? Your listening is made up of both your hearing and your interpretations. Your interpretations are your opinions and judgements and what you think about ‘Scary Russians’ is initially created in your language.

Many of us may have never met a Russian, but we already have a ‘listening’ which can be described as a private conversation in our head that tells us they are ‘scary’. When we are listening, we listen through our filters. These filters can affect our listening, our filters may include our gender, class, time in history, family and cultural backgrounds, personality, our concerns etc. When you are listening to someone else there are three conversations going on – the one between you and the person, the one in your head and the one in their head. We may already have a ‘listening’   about somebody and when you listen you are listening through your whole ‘way of being’ which includes your language, emotions/mood and physiology/body.

So here is the learning: language creates what is real for us and it is first created in language. Think about those ‘weapons of mass destruction’… that were proved to not be there (!), the ‘be alert but not alarmed’ so now every dark beaded man is a terrorists, or when a manager says to you… ‘oh Sally is lazy’... because they are in a position of authority you think this statement is true (how damaging for Sally). Each of these statements is created in language based on someone’s assessment (opinion or judgment). The danger is that we hold these statements as the truth. 

Like those ‘Scary Russians’ you need to be responsible in how you use language. You need to ask yourself 

  • what interpretations am I making about them or the situation?
  • what is shaping my listening to them or the situation?
  • how could  I listen differently for a better result?

Through reflecting on your ‘way of being’, how you are using your language, emotions/mood and physiology/body you are then able to make small shifts that give you better results. Personally I have been married to a ‘scary Russian’ for many years. So I have a different listening that is shaped by my experiences… and I can relate to the youtube video! For a conversation on how language creates reality contact [email protected] 


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