Essence of Effective Communication
After searching for a while in the Ashoka Vana, Hanuman finally finds a weak woman sitting underneath a tree. Her innate brightness was eclipsed by grief and days of not grooming. At once Hanuman realised that she was Sita. Hanuman empathised with Rama and understood his grief of having parted from the jewel among women, Sita. She was surrounded by fearsome rakshashis, who were armed with various weapons and were guarding Sita.
All of a sudden the sounds of cymbals and Vedic chants filled the air. Hanuman scanned the grove for the source and finally found Ravana approaching the very place where Sita was seated with his entourage. Ravana came close to Sita and addressed her. He requested her to accept his love. He compared himself to Rama and said that Rama was no match for his prowess. He promised Sita that he would make her the Queen Reagent. He promised to conquer the entire world and lay at the feet of her father, if only she said yes.
Sita was not to be fooled by any of these. She nonchalantly threw a blade of grass in front of him indicating that Ravana’s prowess, bravado, promised meant only that much to her. Then she told Ravana that her heart is filled with love for Rama. To separate her from Rama is like trying to separate the light from the sun. She warned Ravana to change his mind and listen to good advisors, else meet his death at the hand of Rama. Ravana was filled with rage listening to Sita, he ordered the Rakshashis present to persuade Sita using all the four possible means: Sama, Dana, Bheda and Danda – including the use of force. He gave Sita a deadline of 2 months to change her mind; if not she would be killed he threatened her.
As soon as Ravana left, the Rakshashis approached menacingly towards Sita in order to frighten her into submission. They were stopped by Trijata, who spoke of a dream she had which prophesised Ravana’s defeat and Rama’s victory. None of this would cheer Sita. Being a strong independent woman, she was embarrassed by the fact that Ravana had given her time to live, so she contemplated suicide. After all the Rakshashis were asleep, she tried to hang herself using her long hair. At this point Hanuman realized that he cannot delay any further and started chanting the name of Rama!
A bewildered Sita looked up wondering who in this forsaken place chanted the name of her husband?! She spotted Hanuman among the branches. Hanuman proceeded to narrate the incidents that led to Sita’s kidnapping and his crossing of the oceans. Hanuman was a master in the art of conversation and hence adopted this approach as opposed talking with Sita, to win her trust slowly.
Sita initially thought that she was hallucinating, but Hanuman jumped down and introduced himself. He asked about Sita and she responded by identifying herself. Having started a conversation Hanuman tried to move closer, but Sita became cautious and warned him, “If you are Ravana in disguise, I am warning you that you are inviting death by doing this”. Hanuman assured her that he was a messenger of Rama. Sita asked him to prove it by describing Rama to her. Hanuman described Rama in great detail, which brought tears to her eyes. She thought how much she missed the person, who was being described by this stranger. Hanuman substantiated his identity by giving her the ring of Rama. Sita recognized it in an instant and began to weep.
Having seen evidences that support his claims, Sita started to trust Hanuman and asked him how Rama made friendship with Hanuman. Hanuman then detailed the incidents that led to the alliance between Rama and Sugreeva, his king. Sita enquired about Rama’s well being and asked him if he had forgotten her. Hanuman placated Sita by telling her that he was not aware of her presence here and if he knew, he would ransack Lanka and rescue her in no time.
Going a step further Hanuman offered to carry Sita on his back to Rama. Sita laughed at him and wondered how such a small monkey can carry her across the ocean. Hanuman offended by Sita’s ridicule grew in size and showed his vishwaroopa. He said he would carry the entire Lanka on his back if he wanted to. However, Sita refused the offer and cited the impracticality of the plan. She also was aware that such an approach would create a dent in Rama’s image. Hanuman was also convinced of Sita’s argument. He asked Sita for an evidence of having met her.
Sita gave Hanuman her crest jewel, the only piece of jewellery she had on her, as she had discarded everything as a trail in the jungles for Rama to follow. She also recounted a story of their closeness while they were staying at chitrakoota. She said “No one else is aware of the story and if you narrate it to him, he will know that you have indeed met me”. She further gave Rama a deadline of one month to come and rescue her, else she would not be alive, she warned. Having given her message, Sita wished Hanuman luck and bid him farewell.
As we can see, in this episode both Sita and Hanuman claimed certain things. They took a stand and supported it with reasons; they further provided evidence to convince the other person. These when put together gives us the characteristics of effective communication.
Thus if we want to ensure our communication meets the objective, we have to actively listen and make sure that there is a give and take of information on both sides. We should not rush into giving any information, but should work on building trust before we open up. In order to build trust we have to substantiate our claims with reasons and evidence. Adopting the right tone and body language is also essential. Imagine what would have happened if Hanuman jumped in front of Sita in a gigantic form. She would have thought him to be Ravana’s ally and wouldn’t have considered a single word of his!
Even after talking with Sita and conveying the necessary message, the prudent Hanuman still had something in his mind. He wanted to test Ravana’s might and give him a warning. What did Hanuman do to get a face to face meeting with Ravana? Wait till we find out in the next episode. Till then don’t hesitate to mail your views and comments to email@example.com
If you want to catch up what happened before this read the previous post (Lesson #3) here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/10-management-lessons-from-ramayana-lesson-3-madan-panathula?trk=pulse_spock-articles