Graphic created by Evan Brooks using Wix.
Now more than ever, it is essential that we are able to listen and understand each other. This week’s edition of “From Me To You” will focus on just that — understanding — and how listening actively can help all of us engage with the world in a more productive manner.
If we seek to understand someone, we must first listen to them. Listening goes beyond just hearing the words coming out of their mouth; we also must pay attention to their body language. What facial expressions are they making? Are they using hand gestures — if so, what kind? These are the questions we need to ask ourselves during conversation because when we speak, we use every available resource to communicate our message.
After hearing what a person says and seeing how they say it, our attention should shift to why they said it. Meaning hides behind every uttered word. Look from where they are coming from. What is their reason?
In better understanding others, we can be better understood as well. Communicating goes beyond saying what you want to say. Instead, show what you mean. When someone can visualize your message, they can not only better understand it, but will be more likely to be on board with it.
When we build our own understanding of the world around us, we learn lessons from each experience encountered. It is important that we realize the lesson we may have gained from one experience may not be the same lesson someone else gained from that same experience. Everyone holds a different perspective on how they see and review information that is unique to them. So, never belittle or deflect someone else’s image of how something is just because it may not completely match up with your own.
Part of actively listening to another person and understanding what they mean or where they are coming from is knowing what you don’t know. You won’t be able to understand every little thing in this world, and that’s OK.
There are some conversations you will enter when you won’t fully understand where the other person is coming from. It is perfectly acceptable to not fully grasp someone else’s point of view. If you don’t understand what they mean or where they are coming from, be inquisitive, ask them questions and don’t attack them or their beliefs. As frustrating as it can be to not understand someone or something, as soon as we lose our temper, we have lost.
Not agreeing with someone else is fine. If we all agreed with each other about everything, there wouldn’t be much room for a conversation. However, it is important that we take in all that is said and use it to build upon our understandings of ourselves, our ideologies and everything in between.
Remember that understanding someone starts with listening to them. If you forget all else, remember that no matter the person, we should take the time to listen to what they have to say, even if you disagree with what is said. Listening goes farther than just words. We speak with our entire body.
To be understood is a great feeling. It means that someone else gets where you are coming from — and even if they don’t fully get it, the very attempt is meaningful.
Evan Brooks is a third-year Business Management major with minors in Economics and Civic and Professional Leadership EB0916132@wcupa.edu.