November 16, 2008

Research, Life and The Fine Art of Conversation

Research. Yuck.

I spent Friday and Saturday trying to figure out how to translate research findings into a journal article for publication. Truly a big feat for someone who can’t even write her own thesis, right? While I did spend a whole lot of the time blatantly maximaizing the wifi access in the venue, I have to admit the whole workshop experience gave me a new point of view with research and if there is one thing I learned to appreciate in those two days, it’s the fine art of conversation. Granted that the workshop speaker was referring to conversation as a metaphor for research publication, it dawned on me that any form of writing, teaching, and even thinking is a conversation. The thing to remember is: do you have anything to say?

I suppose that’s one reason why I’ve been finding research so difficult. It’s because I really don’t know what to say. I don’t even know what I’m interested to know, at least in the realm of research. This brought to mind my so-called love life and why it has been hard for me to find a partner: it’s because I haven’t found someone who peaks my interest nor have I found that person I want to listen to and tell things to.

One of the exercises we did in the workshop dealt with coming up with what we want to say with regards to our research topics and how different is this from what’s already been said. According to our speaker, if you’re not saying anything new, maybe there is nothing to say. On the way home, that idea stuck to my head. It led to my second realization: know when to shut up. Ooohhh….I suck at this big time. I have gotten into trouble so many times because of F.M.D. (foot in mouth disease!). Though I may be a psychologist, I often am not able to read the subtleties of human behavior too well, especially non-verbal responses. For example, I either don’t easily pick up on signals people give, or I read too much into it. As a result, I overreact or unintentionally push to far.

Throughout the workshop one very important point that the speaker kept driving at was know your audience. Know what journal you plan to publish in for it will determine the kind of conversation you will carry. *Lightbulb lights up* Lesson number 3: not all conversations are conversations for all. I realized that I tend to be too much of an open book. Whatever conversation I carry out with one friend is carried out with ALL friends, even though they are friends from a different context. For example, I often talk to my so-called uncomplicated friend about my newer friends and forget that she does not really know these people so parts of the conversation are abstract concepts to her. In the same manner, when I had a run in with the ex-that-never was, I ranted this to a friend who had no idea what the heck I was talking about. Point here: know who you are talking to and what I can and cannot tell them.

The art of conversation is not one way, I realize. While research publication may seem to be a one-way avenue, as the author dictates the argument, it is not. These publications are either responses to earlier questions or comments posed, or perhaps become a springboard for a new topic. As such, the art of conversation is a give and take process. Even though I teach this construct all the time in class, I found myself reminding myself that I also have to listen. Coincidentally, another colleague of mine commented earlier in the day that she didn’t comment on a blog post I had earlier because she could not relate to the topic. Lesson number 4.

Perhaps the most important lesson I learned in the whole write shop thing is knowing that the most important part of a conversation is having it. More importantly, having it with the right people and in the right context. After all, what good is an idea if you never do anything about it right?

3 stars twinkling:

Pat,  11/17/2008 10:18:00 AM  

Here I am thinking you didn't listen the whole time but alas! You were able to completely summarize the important points of the writeshop in this blog. All you said here is right. so can we now say that interpersonal relationships are really convervsations happening or waiting to happen? May it be verbal or nonverbal, it is still conversational.

jennai,  11/17/2008 11:24:00 AM  

And as wat pat said, you pretty much covered the key points. Now if only it's easy to apply that in research like how you easily applied it to your experiences. >_<.

t-napay,  11/18/2008 08:42:00 PM  

then again, that's your personality. if you don't say your thoughts like you do, would you feel comfortable? and it's not like what you say is senseless. i think most people find your stories fun(ny) or insightful. true, there are times when we are misunderstood. again, it's just like research. some find your research crappy, some find it significant. :)

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