By Umm Isam – Writer and Human Resource Trainer
Do you sometimes feel trapped in a gathering where you want nothing else than to escape the talk (read, vicious gossip, frivolous conversations, etc.) going on around you? Or, you pray earnestly for the topic of conversation to change or improve, as you have nothing constructive to contribute personally? Try this:
- Pull it out at the right time
We are all bombarded with text messages daily, which are read and deleted. These one-liners are sometimes funny, sometimes wise, and sometimes, worthy of being deleted immediately. Store the ones close to your heart either on your cell or in a small notebook to carry around. Avid readers of quotations or books can also add their favourites to this list. The next time you land in a party and the talk drifts and becomes boring, frivolous, shallow, hateful or simply unpleasant, you will have something worthwhile to share.
- Take along your favourite book/magazine
Sometimes, we are so pressed for time that it is simply impossible to note down anything. In such cases, it is best to simply grab and shove in your purse whatever you have been reading lately and loved it so much that you would want the world to know. Your effort to act proactively will grant you immense Sadaqah-e-Jariya, even if you never get a chance to read anything out of it. If you do, it would be extremely meaningful amidst gossips, complains or criticism. You might just be able to change the direction of the talk and generate some great dormant ideas from others, too.
- Listen to understand
Gatherings are not just about talking. They are about listening to others, too – a skill that is mainly lost today. Weddings are the perfect place for such counselling therapy. A typical Pakistani marriage reception generally eats up a good three to four hours of your time, if you are just a non VIP guest. These are apt opportunities to understand the root causes of what people say and why they feel the way they do in our society. As a writer, I have found this to be a pivotal chance to observe, listen without judgement and sometimes, simply be a therapist to someone who needed an ear to unload his or her miseries.
- Announce the agenda boldly or slip it in subtly
As soon as you arrive, tell your close ones that this will be a vegetarian’s chitchat (meaning no juicy back biting, slandering or suspicion). All others who are interested in consuming some meat should wait for the table to be laid out for dinner or lunch. If your companions cooperate, Alhumdulillah! But if they persistently keep on slaughtering everyone left, right and centre, try to cut your visit short, move out of that group, take another table, and make Dua to Allah (swt) for guidance.
- Revive the roots
Get-togethers serve great opportunities for soft Dawah. They need not be stern, unending sermons. They can comprise a fact-based incident from the Prophet’s (sa) life, a verse from the Quran, something you read to your child about a companion, or something you learnt at a workshop or while surfing the Internet. It need not be something that pertains to current celebrities, lifestyle or prevalent fashions. It can be anything that disconnects you from the crazy and mechanical life of today, and helps you travel back in time.