Do You REALLY Listen?
“YOU’RE NOT LISTENING TO ME!” How many times in your life has someone screamed that at you? I’ve been on the receiving end of that frustrating communication. And, speaking solely for myself, I have to say that almost without fail when those words were thrust in my general direction I most certainly WAS listening.
The problem was that I didn’t want to hear what was being said. I can listen to a garbage truck outside picking up our weekly refuse. However, it’s not exactly the sound I want to have whilst doing my daily meditations.
The response to the accusation above is usually something along the line of, “And, YOU are not listening to ME!”
Of course, we aren’t talking about listening, are we? We’re often trying to get one of two points across to the other person. The first possibility is that our idea of the other person listening is that they agree with us, tell us we’re right, and then beg our forgiveness. The second is that while we are listening, we aren’t “listening aright.” Instead of listening to understand, we’re listening to be understood.
Here’s what I mean by that. Have you been in a conversation with someone and you can tell beyond any doubt that s/he doesn’t believe a word of what you’re saying? This fact is verified as soon as you take even a small breath or dare to pause. Immediately the other person will begin telling you all the reasons you’re wrong, why they are right, thus proving they are more interested in preaching than discussing.
As soon as we seek to understand, rather than trying to be understood, we open a completely unexplored avenue toward peace with one another.
Okay, enough about “them.” What about “us?” In the midst of a much divided world, with the polarities of human thinking at such opposite ends of the spectrum, what we do with regard to communication is probably more vital than ever before. We can find peace and mutual aid by seeking to understand the viewpoints of people whose philosophies or ideologies are diametrically opposed to our own.
In spite of how wrong we might think someone is, they have a right to their opinion and belief. If that person is a stranger on a street corner we pass once in our life it doesn’t much matter. It’s a completely different scenario if the individual with whom we clash is the one in our bed. And, of course, there are all the people in between.
Just for today, would you be willing to engage others in new and open ways to understand them? This suggestion should never be undertaken in cases of someone attempting physical or psychological harm to us, but hopefully that’s not your experience of life. The payoff by seeking to understand is that the other person senses the shift in our consciousness, an openness to communicate, and will thereby be far more willing to entertain our point of view as well.
In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Copyright © 2017 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.
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