AS a therapist who treats about 9,000 people each year, I get asked all the time: “How are you going to get people to understand or listen to you?”
The best way to answer this question is to show them examples of how we can get things done.
The basis of our abilities as human beings is that we are and are supposed to be able to be us. We interpret what we see as what we think. If we are not ourselves we can’t envision ourselves as being on this planet and we don’t have a mechanism or instrument to control other people’s perception of us.
Often, this leads to a reliance on intellect. In other words, many people don’t have the capacity to understand or respond to others.
Fortunately, sometimes these kinds of differences can create opportunities for a deeper understanding to become a part of our practice.
The first way we can learn and practice is through observation. While we can recognize and determine when there are problems in our environment, those are only symptoms of the actual problem. What really matters is the right information we receive about the problem to help us solve it.
Sometimes, it may take a set of things that we already have in the repertoire, like a calendar or checklist, to identify a problem that can be so effectively solved.
This is where hearing something is important. It is the first stage of understanding, even if you only see things, hear things, see things and form opinions about things. This is why it’s important to listen to information and then say something in response.
It may seem a bit overwhelming at first to ask questions of someone, particularly one whose answers you don’t know, as a form of communication. But eventually it’s the right thing to do.
I’ve often heard a reflection of how people treat their neighbor: “He talks in a way that makes me cringe.” In my experience, this is because it causes our attitude to change, and not necessarily our ability to understand someone.
So first, before approaching someone, ask to assess their perspective on things. Ask yourself, “Does this make me uncomfortable?”
Do you feel obligated to know the answer to a question because you want to be right?
Also, ask yourself, “Is this consistent with your intent to accept information and listen?” When we’re talking about a problem, it’s important to try to have open communication with ourselves. In other words, if someone makes a direct statement or response, try to be as open-minded as possible and let them know you like what they say.
Another simple way to involve yourself is through listening. Allow others to express themselves. We can provide additional explanations that suggest they are exaggerating.
Our responsibility is to recognize, admit, process and value the points of view of others. Even though we don’t agree with them, we should look past the first disagreement and try to move forward.
What is the process we need to follow to be able to listen to other people’s concerns and solutions? It starts with the saying, “You can listen to just about anybody.” The exact phrase that I was given, “You can listen to just about anybody,” was the answer to a friend’s question: “How does it feel being listened to?”
In the larger conversation about the problem, not only are there things we can and should do that we can hear, we need to be able to make decisions and be able to respond to the individual’s insight. Without getting trapped by phrases and poses, we need to let the ideas grow or resist it.