|By Matt @ PEK from Taipei, Taiwan - Conversation, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30754121|
- One was only half-listening to something I said, which became apparent when she asked a question that was completely opposite of what I had just told her. Based on her own experiences, she assumed mine, and asked a question that didn't make sense.
- The second presumed that she knew me so well as to voice what I was thinking and feeling--and to other people. But it was not true.
- The third heard what I was saying and jumped in to finish my thoughts, but she misunderstood and concluded incorrectly.
But as I thought about them, I wondered about conversations I have with people, particularly students (though it could apply to anyone):
- Do I want to listen or to hear?
- While listening, am I spending my time thinking about what I will say next?
- Do I assume that I know what my student is thinking, feeling or planning?
- How can I avoid misunderstanding what he/she is telling me?
- How can I practice being a better hearer?
In every relationship, in every circumstance, in every interaction there is an opportunity to listen, rather, to hear. I want to learn to hear better, to speak less, to build up relationships!
When have you been misunderstood (words, intentions, etc.)?
What is the best way you have learned to practice hearing?
What are the advantages of "hearing" and the disadvantages of "listening"?
"Sometimes words--especially words that describe emotions--don't communicate effectively because we are too quick to think we know what the other person means by their use of the word. For example, if I were to tell you that the only memory I have of those days was a deep, deep peace, you might smile and say, 'That's nice,' or even 'That's great!' And, I might respond with frustration that you didn't really understand what I was saying. This isn't your fault, of course, because how can any of us truly understand what another person has experienced? I'm not hoping you'll understand what I experienced; I'm simply hoping that you won't too quickly assume that you do understand and, by doing so, miss the power of what I'm attempting to describe." (John Stumbo)