Everything Your Parents Did Not Tell You About Understanding or Being Understood
By Markus Eriksson 6 Comments
For sure my own parents never said anything to me about this fundamental shift of focus that moves your relationships either toward greatness or deflatness. Once my eyes were opened to it I have never looked at a human interaction the same way again.
My eyes were first open by Bo, a good friend of mine. He offered this perspective on relationships, well on any meeting with another human being. It was amazed at the simplicity of it.
So lets pop the million dollar question; are you a person who strive to understand others or to be understood by others? And are you able to catch yourself in the midst of a discussion to clarify which of the two you are focusing on in the moment?
I claim that in any discussion or conflict that is moving in a downward spiral towards negativity, where the parties feel stuck or where the heat of the moment is mounting, that this discussion is going where it is going because there is too much focus on being understood instead of understanding the other person.
A typical behaviour that we indulge into when we focus on being understood is that we have what we are going to say next playing in our head, rehearsing it, while we half-heartedly listen to the other or are just waiting for the other to catch his or her breath for a short moment so we can jump in and say what we want to have said.
Especially in phases of a relationships development where conflicts are common it make a huge difference if we are able to dare to move to understanding. Because it takes courage. In many ways one could argue that conflict resolution and management are about these two perspectives. In times of conflict, do you spend most of your energy on understanding the other person or is your main focus to be understood by the other person?
Sometimes we kid ourselves by thinking we are really trying to understand while we actually are filling our heads with our own images, our own maps, our own declarations that are meant to clarify what the other person means. More seldom do we dare to seize the moment, empty our head for a short instance and just devote ourselves to truly understanding and taking in the other person's view of things and perception of the world.
We tend to have our answer playing in our head, so as soon as the other person goes silent for a short moment, deliver that answer with our own words and explanations.
To dare to make a halt and empty ourselves of our own stuff takes, as stated above, courage. It often also requires a trust that the other person will pause and do the same for us. Meaning they will during a time of full attention devote themselves to understanding us.
Countless times I have been in situations where two people with amazing stubbornness devote themselves to being understood. Think of the affect it would have on several on the conflicts in our world if there was a genuine interest for understanding. People who that someone else is passionate about understanding will feel seen and important. People who feel seen and important will feel safe inside. People who feel safe inside do not start wars. People who feel safe inside spread love in the world and allows themselves the luxury of devoting time to understanding other people.
To be able to understand there is an excellent tool in asking questions. Ask with the perspective of understanding the world, the map, the views of the other person. Indulge in a trip together through each others paradigms and views of the world. If you wish to understand another person you need to walk several miles in her shoes.
I wish for you deep understanding and great relationships,