I often witness peer pressure
Sometimes I see the following situation. Someone asks a question to a teacher/authority and people from the audience say "no" initially. Then the authority says "no" in answer as well (usually more politely). Then the person follows up with a second question. But her peers are already repeatedly saying "no", which drowns out her question, which could be important. It's also disrespectful to the authority, because the peers are encroaching on her job. That kind of stuff makes me feel bad.
It seems that in English (or maybe languages in general), when we talk about something specific, people think we are trying to cast judgment over something, like people. It's pretty annoying to me, because I like to talk about emotions and be frank about them, but I fear that I might piss someone off due to a misunderstanding.
This has prompted me to think about with whom the burden of understanding lies.
Why speaking can be harder than listening
I've concluded that speaking is much easier than listening, in general. However, speaking well is much more difficult than listening well. This is because the skill ceiling for speaking is much higher than for listening.
To listen, all one must do is pay attention and try to follow someone's train of thought. It is an act of consumption. To speak, one must develop something for others to pay attention to. It is an act of creation. All that is needed to create speech are vocal cords and a brain, so it's very easy in principle. However, like every instance of creation vs consumption, creating well will always be more difficult than consuming well.
In addition, to listen, one usually only has to reconcile with one person's way of thinking at a time, because people usually speak one at a time. Whereas, when one is speaking, they must be aware of the way of thinking of each person in their audience if they wish to be understood well by all those people.
This is why I feel that people who are listening should have the greater burden in establishing mutual understanding than the person speaking. There is only so much that someone speaking can address at once, whether they be perceived logical fallacies, or potential misunderstandings. It would be too much for one person to have to follow everything they say with "I know some of you are thinking this, but I'm not saying that because...". I think it would lower the barrier for people to express themselves if we try to get on the same page as them, (and that may surely require questioning!), rather than telling them to get on our page instead.
If you feel that they are on the wrong page, at least don't address it as if they haven't thought of that yet. They probably have, but just didn't want to include it in what they were saying for fear of confusing their audience.
I am a person who asks a lot of questions and has been criticized for being too challenging of speakers. However, I usually do that to better understand what someone is saying. Then when I feel comfortable that I understand their point, I can express my disagreement outright. I try not to default to disagreement when someone is speaking.
How do you feel about this issue? I promise I'll listen. ^_^