I’m not alone, I’m sure, in finding myself misunderstood. It’s taken 29 years for me to be able to say “My wife understands me”, which is an indication of how long it can take to get on someone else’s wavelength. Of course, she might disagree.
Stephen Covey talks about the need to first understand and then to be understood. He basically means ‘zip it’ and listen out for what other people are thinking and feeling, as well as what they are saying and how they are behaving. But he is careful enough to make this daunting task more manageable by suggesting we “Seek” to understand. It’s the seeking that’s important, even if we don’t fully understand each other.
My own view of the world is limited, inaccurate, partial, and inconclusive. So I shouldn’t expect to have a greater understanding of someone else’s. However, it is right that I should make the effort to explore and learn from others. How dull to have to rely on my own resources when the world is teeming with exciting possibilities, alternative viewpoints, information, ideas and beliefs. After all, it is these things that are responsible for why people do the things they do. It’s helpful to know this, or at least have an inkling!
So I’m going looking. And I’m also going listening. And I’m going to try doing those things first before succumbing to my often overwhelming need to pontificate. You should try it too.
There’s an irony here: I’m talking about seeking to understand others whilst pontificating in this blog. It just goes to show: nobody’s perfect and we shouldn’t expect them to be.