Imagine a moment when you believe you are completely understood, and un-judged, by someone with whom you are trying to communicate... especially to someone important to you and concerning something about which you feel strong emotion. Imagine it.... How does it feel? Everything is understood: Your thoughts, your beliefs, your emotions, your desires, your fears, your passion. Almost nothing feels better than this to us humans. We desire so much and so often to be understood yet we aren't very good at understanding and suspending judgment ourselves.
I found this quote, taken from a book entitled, The Power of Presence, by Doug Manning, to be so profound I taped it above my computer:
"If we can be understood, we can move on. If we cannot be understood, we tend to park there, and the need for understanding becomes an obsession to us."
If you feel someone in your life cannot move on from an issue, perhaps there is an unmet need to be fully understood. Consider that you could potentially resolve the issue by putting your attention on understanding more and convincing less.
When it comes to understanding others, I have found remembering these two points helpful:
- It is the other person who decides if they feel understood. Not me. My job is to listen, ask questions, reflect back, and listen some more until they feel entirely heard.
- Understanding is not the same as agreeing. It's simply "getting" the other person's perspective and suspending judgment about it. Though the truth is in my experience, the more I seek to truly understand another person... the more often I find agreement and resolution.
This week, when an issue arises with a client, patient, co-worker, family member or total stranger... seek to first to understand, then to be understood... so nobody gets "parked" and everybody can "move on."