During a social psychology class this story was told. I loved the idea it imparted and found it worth sharing in a world where we are increasingly connected through messages instead of face to face interactions. Its a lesson on the importance of framing our words right:
“Once Akbar dreamt that he’d lost all his teeth. He summoned a dream interpretor who told him that his dream symbolized that he’ll see all his kith and kin die. Enraged, he sent away the dream interpretor. But the revelation left him shaking in agony and misery. When Birbal saw him in this pity state, he advised him to relax. He continued to tell that the dream was a message about his good fortune – Akbar was to outlive his whole clan! Hearing this Akbar was immensely reassured and he rewarded Birbal with precious jewels.
On his way back, Birbal was countered by the dream interpretor – “your interpretation was no different than mine”, he accused.
“Ah yes,” said Birbal, “but remember: what matters is not only what you say, but how you say it”
This story reminded me of an incident where an angry and agitated me lashed out on a neighbour only to later realize that a bad day, a power supply failure and all the frustration of being locked in, had translated into a feud. By the time I realized it, the damage had already been done, and I can imagine the domino effect of my behaviour he’d project out on the next person he would have met. No matter how difficult, this story reminds us to try and weave-in compassion into our messages and our interactions. Given the current lockdown, people might be jittery, anxious or at the brink of a breakdown. A feedback, a learning or a rectification well conveyed will go a long way in boosting morale and maintaining sound relationships.