Man is a gregarious animal; he must have social skills to deal with those around him. Unfortunately, these skills are not taught in any institute
As one grows, the number of interactions with others also rises. This basic truth of life led some Greek philosophers to postulate that man is a "gregarious animal." One needs company. The initial company is the parents, then the family, and then the circle of family connects, and so it goes on.
Each individual has his temperament. Someone needs company a little more than others. Some are a little friendlier; some are a little more gregarious than others. The list is long, and their attributes define the individuality of the person.
There is plenty of experience and evidence to suggest that the process of defining personality begins with the collection and selection of the DNA traits of the father and mother. This is a complex phenomenon, and how the selection of the DNA takes place is still to be fully understood.
As the child grows the process of socialisation rolls on. The first language the child converses in is popularly referred to as the ‘mother tongue’. The choice of words and the ability to phrase sentences are also learnt from the context, but in many cases, this can never be fully explained.
This leads to another theory, which postulates that life is there before it shapes into a body and continues after the body is gone. This may be basic to the narrative to explain just one thing: life is eternal and its manifestation is a passing phenomenon. The purpose of this reference is not to get into philosophy but to focus on that part of the existence of the living being that manifests itself in the form of a human body.
The living being in the form of a human body gets defined by the growth of a human body: childhood, youth, middle age, old age, and so on. At each stage of ageing, human interaction becomes more complex, and it becomes necessary to be in better control of one’s temperament. What could get affected would be the nature of person-to-person relationships, person-to-environment interactions, and more. It is here that so much complexity, research, and scholarship become active factors. An important concept or trait in any human being as soon as the person becomes autonomous in behaviour and conduct, as in the concept of "proportion"
Unfortunately, there is no coursework either in school or college or later on "proportion."
Some basic concerns include: When to speak? How to choose one’s words? In what pitch of the voice to speak? How to listen? When is silence the best communication tool? When should one enter into dialogue? When should one conclude a dialogue?—the list can go on.
All this has to be learnt on one’s own, at best with the help of an associate, or by sheer trial and error. Most people do not know how to go about it. This is where the context of one’s growth matters. The dominant male and female personalities in one’s life are a prime input to this learning. The trouble, however, is that one doesn’t often have the choice of selecting one’s elders until it’s too late. Thus, it is that growing up is the outcome of accidental consequences of a relationship one never chose in the first instance.
By the time one grows to recognise this, one has already burnt many boats. It leads to an the all-important word "proportion" and helps indicate how this learning can only be predominantly self-driven.It is not possible to transfer everything to a school or college curriculum, but it is always possible to create spaces for self-learning in the time one spends in schools and colleges. That is, of course, if one does have the opportunity to go through that experience.
Life can be a joy, it can be confusing, it can be exasperating, and it can be always on the move, either singly, in pairs, or combinations. Something can be both joyful and exasperating at the same time. It is here that perception defines proportion. Like proportion, perception is a slippery word. The same objective reality can be perceived in many different ways by individuals.
Yet seldom is a person taught how to define, refine, or interpret perceptions. Net-net, basic learning is self-learning; hence, one’s joys, anxieties, and fears are rooted deep within one. One can hardly be in overall control of matters in such a situation. However, not even being aware of the problem is the biggest tragedy of all. One’s joys, fears, anxieties, and more are often the essence of life. Any window that can be seen and inspected better should be a core concern in preparing for life. The rest can follow in due course, as indeed it will.
(The author is an internationally acclaimed management consultant. The views expressed are personal)