How to Make Sense Out of Nonsense
Your senses are the physical abilities of sight, smell, hearing, touch and taste. If you sense something, it means you become aware of it, or you realize it, though it may not be obvious. If you have a sense that something is the case, it means you believe it is the case, though you may not have clear evidence to back your belief. If you have a sense of guilt or shame, it means you feel guilty or ashamed. If you have a sense that something is your duty, it means you feel it is important. Sense, according to dictionary, is the ability to make good judgement and to behave sensibly. The word, Nonsense, is used to refer to something that does not make sense, or that is lacking of sense, untrue, foolish or silly. It is also used to refer to things we do not approve of, that do not mean anything to us, or that sound ridiculous or pointless. If something makes sense, it means you can understand it. If it is nonsense, it means it makes no sense. But, someone once told me that you can make sense out of nonsense. I tend to agree.
A long time ago while I waited for my bus to arrive in a bus station, I watched a man, believed to be mad, cross the road. The man was known to many people in that area of town where a popular mental hospital is said to exist. Our man was obliviously stark naked. As I watched, I saw him occasionally pick things from bins to eat, chatting and laughing with himself and at his imaginary friends. As he made to cross the road, a truck raced towards him. Our man looked up, saw the truck, and in an exceptionally hurried movement, he ran across the road. I was shocked, because I had assumed that mad people, having lost the coordinated use of their senses would not know how to avoid danger. This man’s action did not make sense to me at the time. I once saw a mad woman on a street, cuddling her baby. Officials tried to take the baby off her, and she revolted. I heard of one mad man who kept saying to himself, and to anyone who cared to listen, that there are seven types of madness, and he is manifesting one of them. As he passed by, businessmen would shout, “Hey, madman, 25 + 37” and he would shout back, without stopping, or looking to see who asked, “62”, or whatever the right answer is. Over the years, as I thought about it, I realised that, even a mad person can have the ability to make good judgement and to behave sensibly. Conversely, many sane people can behave senselessly with instant erratic and abnormal judgements. There is obviously a thin line between madness and sanity.
Many people speak and act without paying attention to what they say or do. We all act, but some people get paid for it. Acting and speaking comes naturally and easily to many people, although the English language can be quite confusing. For instance, there is a difference between a “Start-up” and an “Upstart”! How is a foreigner supposed to know the difference when many born and bred English speakers themselves struggle with the language? Most people can speak, but making sense when we speak is a task that must be learned. If someone says you are “talking nonsense”, take it as an advice. Try to see if you can yourself, make sense of what you are saying. If it sounds confusing to you, it probably sounds confusing to others. Sometimes, things that make sense to us may make absolutely no sense to other people. Making sense of words and actions is the root of effective communications skills. I regularly try to make some sense out of things that make no sense to me. Here are a few tips I have learnt and try to apply, which have worked for me.
1. Assume that the other person may not understand you.
2. Try to deconstruct your thoughts into manageable bits of information.
3. Keep it short and simple. Use a clear voice with simple, uncomplicated language.
4. Be mindful of your facial expressions. Remember that you cannot see yourself.
5. Body language speaks volumes. Don’t make movements you cannot account for.
6. Don’t agree with things you don’t understand or agree with.
7. Hostile words are unnecessary, and may end up achieving the opposite effect.
8. A smile costs nothing, and makes a big difference in a conversation.
9. Make an extra effort to check what is said, or your listener’s understanding.
10. Above all, always be yourself. Trying to behave differently will only complicate things.
If you try any of these and it works for you, take it as sense. If it doesn’t, then it’s probably nonsense.
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