Tag Archives: listening

The Caring Habit of Listening

By Kim Olver

As a healthy relationship habit, listening isn’t just about hearing another person, waiting for them to stop talking so you can jump in with your “words of wisdom.” Listening is about doing your best to understand another person. Try to stand in their shoes, be in their skin and see the world with their eyes as best you can. No one can have perfect understanding of another. That would mean you would have to actually be that other person, but we can work at doing the best we can.

Understanding doesn’t mean you have to agree. You can see it from another’s point of view and still maintain your own perspective as true for you. One example is a wife who speaks to her husband about his excessive drinking. She believes his drinking is having a serious effect on his health, particularly his achy joints and his liver. He explains to her that he has a lot of anger that he doesn’t understand and that drinking helps him contain that anger. She is able to understand his perspective without agreeing with him. It helps her be more understanding of the reason he drinks.

Another example, involves an incident when I was sixteen. I remember asking my mother if I could stay home from school. She asked if I was sick and I replied, “No, I’m not sick but I can’t go to school with this huge zit on the end of my nose. Everyone will stare at me!” My mother’s response: “Kimberly Marie, get ready for school. You won’t even remember this five years from now.” Well, I’m 53 and I still remember it, Mom.

father-son

This is not to say I think my mother should have allowed me to go stay home from school. What I wish is that she would have listened to me to understand how devastated and desperate I was feeling. She might have even shared about a time she had a pimple and it wasn’t as bad as she thought it would be. Almost any response would have been better than having my perspective completely disregarded. (The funny thing is, in one way my mother was right. I don’t remember my classmates reactions that day but I do remember my mother not really listening to me.)

Do you have any stories about a time when someone didn’t listen to you? Or maybe you have a story about a time when someone did and it really made a difference. Can you be the person today who really listens to someone important to you to understand their point of view?

What do you see?

By Dr. Ken Larsen (Originally published November 23, 2013)

The ancient story of the blind men and the elephant is full of wisdom. Let’s apply this wisdom to the ways that we connect with the world around us and the people that share that world with us. We’re realizing that our mental health and happiness depend on loving and being loved in our relationships with others. This fable can give us insights into what can help us connect. It also shows us dramatically one major obstacle to connecting, and that is the assumption that the way I experience the world around me is the same way you experience our world.

elephant

Each blind man had to interpret the information of his senses and construct an image of the elephant from images formed from prior experience. This is understandable. The problem came when each of them assumed that their perception was the only accurate image of the real elephant. What would have happened had they shared their experience, each reporting on the part of the elephant that he could sense, realizing that the others were experiencing something that he could not. By sharing their individual perceptions, they could form a collective composite image of the elephant. This composite image could then be shared and they would all know more about the elephant.

How many conflicts could be prevented if each of us would make the effort to listen to one another to discover how the other “sees” the world that we share. Once we have an understanding of the perceived world of the other, we can make a choice on how to respond.

This seems preferable to reacting to what is assumed to be the point of view of the other.

The Art of Listening

By Kim Olver

As a healthy relationship habit, listening isn’t just about hearing another person, waiting for them to stop talking so you can jump in with your “words of wisdom.” Listening is about doing your best to understand another person. Try to stand in their shoes, be in their skin and see the world with their eyes as best you can. No one can have perfect understanding of another. That would mean you would have to actually be that other person, but we can work at doing the best we can.

father-son

Understanding doesn’t mean you have to agree. You can see it from another’s point of view and still maintain your own perspective as true for you. One example is a wife who speaks to her husband about his excessive drinking. She believes his drinking is having a serious effect on his health, particularly his achy joints and his liver. He explains to her that he has a lot of anger that he doesn’t understand and that drinking helps him contain that anger. She is able to understand his perspective without agreeing with him. It helps her be more understanding of the reason he drinks.

Another example, involves an incident when I was sixteen. I remember asking my mother if I could stay home from school. She asked if I was sick and I replied, “No, I’m not sick but I can’t go to school with this huge zit on the end of my nose. Everyone will stare at me!” My mother’s response: “Kimberly Marie, get ready for school. You won’t even remember this five years from now.” Well, I’m 53 and I still remember it, Mom.

This is not to say I think my mother should have allowed me to go stay home from school. What I wish is that she would have listened to me to understand how devastated and desperate I was feeling. She might have even shared about a time she had a pimple and it wasn’t as bad as she thought it would be. Almost any response would have been better than having my perspective completely disregarded. (The funny thing is, in one way my mother was right. I don’t remember my classmates reactions that day but I do remember my mother not really listening to me.)

Do you have any stories about a time when someone didn’t listen to you? Or maybe you have a story about a time when someone did and it really made a difference. Can you be the person today who really listens to someone important to you to understand their point of view?

I do not agree with what you have to say, but..

by Dr. Ken Larsen

The inner turmoil that comes from conflict can rob us of our mental health and happiness.

Much of that inner turmoil, I believe, comes from the compulsion to “be right.”

I recently heard Tara Brach make the claim that the world is divided by those who think they are right.

bullhornI cringe at the lack of civility in so many clashes of opinion. I have to wonder what makes people think that denigrating another will convince them of much of anything.

There seems to be a trend to belittle and call names to those who may have a differing point of view.

Can we simply state our position, and then listen carefully to the other, trying to understand?

A quote from Wayne Dyer recently floated through Facebook.  It got a lot of “likes”.  Here’s the quote:

“The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know anything about.”

Most of us strongly oppose bullying.  I believe we need to stop and recognize that the disrespectful attacks on another because their beliefs don’t coincide with yours is a form of bullying.  A bully seeks to overpower another.  This can be done on the playground, or it can happen in the political arena, or any place where opinions clash.  How about the old proverb, “live and let live.”?

The common bond of our humanity takes precedence over our differing opinions.  Aren’t we tired of history repeating itself time and time again with the clashes that lead to violence?  These clashes have an understandable beginning.  One person is convinced he is right and is equally convinced that the other person is wrong.  Can we step back a bit and look at ourselves, listening to what we are thinking and saying about others?  Then ask if what we are doing is getting us what we want.  If we step away from the sort of hostility I am describing, I believe we have a better chance to maintain our mental health and happiness.

 

Negotiating Differences

By Kim Olver

Magic happens when two people really work at negotiating their differences instead of trying to always get their way. It requires some work but it definitely can be done.

father-son

When you go into a negotiation, you are already an expert on one thing – what you want. The thing you don’t know is what the other person wants. Therefore the first step in a successful negotiation is listening to understand how the other person views the situation and what he or she wants.

If both people have the goal of continuing the conversation until both people are satisfied, then a successful solution can often be found.

Is there a conflict you’ve been engaged in with someone important to you? Are you willing to work with them to negotiate your differences? How will you begin?