President’s opening speech on August 14th.
I am the first born in my family. My brother and I are three years apart. My sister and I are seven years apart. Yet, when we hang out, people always assume I am the youngest among three of us.
Fellow Toastmasters, ladies and gentlemen,
Today I’m going to share with you my opinions about bias perception, misconception and miscommunication.
Firstly, allow me to give you an example about perception bias. Apparently, changing a little bit of clothing articles will get people to have a certain perspective on what we are. This is what I usually wear when I’m going out for shopping alone. People will come to me and ask, “Adik, which year in university are you studying in?” A couple of years back, some even ask whether I’m still in high school. To me, this is practical. The jacket kept my headscarf safe from wind when I’m riding my motorbike and cinemas are usually over air-conditioned. The colors keep me in shadows and the attire looks cheap, thus make me less vulnerable to bad people. And because I look younger, I don’t feel guilty staring at the same bookshelf for two hours in MPH. And now, the transformation. Sling bag to hand bag. No jacket. Different head scarf style and colour. Flat shoes to heels. I washed this so don’t worry. Bigger brooch with blink-blink. And people starts calling me “Miss” How may I help you? You see, it is so easy to make people perceive you differently.
It is interesting to note that children are incapable of being bias in many areas, because they are pure and their knowledge about life is insufficient to make such mistake. For example, to many people, I’m in the lowest range of pay grade in the country because I ride motorcycle, but to my ten year old student, ‘Teacher, you ride motorbike coming here? Wow, you are incredibly super cool! Can I get a ride one round?”
Humans make hundreds of assumptions daily. Most of the assumptions might be made of wrong perceptions, leading to misconception. But being humans, interestingly, we are capable of making ourselves believe our assumptions are correct by repeating it to ourselves. And we tend to make assumptions based on things that stand out than things that are absent. I had these two friends in my first year. Let’s call them ‘he’ and ‘she’. He keeps telling us about how bad things are between him and his father. So, we assumed his relationship with his father is bad and it turned out correct. She never spoke about her father, so we assumed their relationship is okay. That’s what we’ve been assuming since we knew her that we believe it. Until one day, in a team building camp, we are required to tell others about our family and friends are allowed to ask any question. We were surprised, because she said, her parents are divorced for a long time and she’s been living with her mother ever since. To make matters worse, she cried right after telling that. We were so surprised that our assumption which has turned to belief is actually a misconception.
The trickiest part about a concept is to communicate it out of our mind. Or rather, the decisions whether we should keep it shut or tell it. This is the most crucial part of our communication or human interaction. For example, a man and a lady have been friends quite long. One day, this lady decided to tell her friend that she is falling for him by a letter. This man decided to keep quiet and act as if he didn’t receive the letter so they can remain friends. And they remain friends – happy ending. But take an instance, a husband and wife who disagree about something and they refuse to talk about it. They are mad at each other for longer they can remember. The kids got older and they can never understand what happened. It goes long back that they can’t even remember the actual cause. Wrong assumptions to wrong assumptions, miscommunication toward miscommunication, it became irreversible. Things might not be so, if long ago, one of them had cared to ask, “When I said this last time, I noticed your face changed. Did I say something you don’t like?” Or, the other party could have just say, “You know, that time when you said this and that, I felt sad. Please don’t say that again.”
Fellow Toastmasters, ladies and gentlemen,
Another thing that I learned from kids this Hari Raya is when you need to communicate something, say it clearly. “Assalamualaikum. Kami datang nak raya.” When you don’t have to say anything important, keep it. When my brother asked the kids jokingly, “Are you all here for money packets or food?”, they just smiled. They taught me that a smile means ‘I’m not telling anything to you but you are my friend.’