Minute #602: Getting to Know You

“Listen and learn” is not a slogan; it’s a technique for building good relationships. Merely hearing the words another says is not considered listening. The words may express an idea or opinion, but there is much more below the surface. When an individual speaks, s/he reveals deep secrets in a cloaked manner. The words must be heard clearly to get the real point.

Many people hear through compromised auditory canals. Rather than listen objectively when another speaks, they inject prejudices and personal preferences, instantly judging the words rather than listening to them. “I would never do that!” or “I don’t understand why that bothers you,” or some similar evaluation blocks reception of the speaker’s actual intent.

To understand people, you need to listen to the self-description contained in their words. Even if they are not explicit, the words articulated say a lot about the speaker. By adding your own interpretations, you distort the message and block your opportunity to get to know someone better.

When the other person is important in your life — like a parent, child or spouse — what you learn by really listening will serve you well. It will help you avoid upsetting or hurting this VIP of yours. When you hear him or her praise another, file that praise as something s/he would probably like to see in you. When s/he complains, learn what to avoid. Maintaining “open canals” and “clear channels” for listening makes for good personal relationships.

One More Second: Another Thought for the Day

Whether or not it [a hurt or an insult] is resolved, you should erase it from your memory to avoid keeping a grudge or, worse, planning a retaliatory move. The attitude should be: “If I do not resolve these minor issues as they come, after a while I will end up carrying an enormous amount of luggage containing all these hurts and ill feelings, each waiting for some retaliation!” Each of these pieces of luggage should have been “checked” at its counter at the moment it arose. (Rene H. Levy, Baseless Hatred, p. 174)