The purpose of a preface is to set the stage for what’s to follow in order to provide some context. When on the receiving end of a preface, our curious minds are put at ease because instead of giving extra energy to deciphering or decoding, we can settle into something with the small comfort of having enough of a clue to about what’s to come. This can prove to be beneficial. Sometimes, however, this creates bias. A lot depends on the quality of our listening skills. Are we attempting to fill the informational gaps with assumptions as we begin, or are we going to absorb all the information first before attempting to determine how we feel about it? Conversely, there’s something to be said about the reliability of the narrator too? There’s a complex dance here. What initially begins as a slow dance can quickly turn into a tango.
The complexity is rooted in trust. Am I choosing to trust that the narrator is reliable? Or, am I choosing to trust myself as being a reliable, unbiased listener? It comes down to choice once again. The complexity may be rooted in trust, but the soil that surrounds that root is self-awareness. Are we self-aware enough to be open to receiving?
When we are the ones providing the preface, are we careful about the words we choose to do so? If we often feel obligated to preface our thoughts with qualifiers, what does that say about the quality of our words? Are we only sincere when we preface our thoughts with declarations of their sincerity? If so, what’s preventing our sincerity in other instances? Why are we afraid to be honest and truthful so much that it requires us to preface others to inform them of when we are being honest and truthful? If these questions ring true for you, what then are you thinking when you hear someone else preface something they are about to say to you with such qualifiers?