One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say. Bryant H. McGill

Do we let anger rule our lives? How many bad relationships are created out of anger that no one knows how to fix? Once we’ve said words we can’t take them back. We can apologize and heal, but many of us don’t know how to do that. What if we don’t believe we are totally in the wrong? We don’t believe we said what someone thinks we said. How could they take that innocuous comment as something so hurtful?

We thought we healed a breach, we were on the mend and now they aren’t talking to us again, and we don’t know why, “what happened?” If we have siblings there are probably some contentious issues, sensitivities, and angst. If we are alive we have sensitivities. Something gets said and we wonder, “What did they mean by that?” We feel our actions, our words, our attitude, and our whole being can be misunderstood and viewed in a negative light.

We can read something posted on Face book and wonder, “What do they mean by that? Is there some hidden message?

Can we try and look at others with empathy and compassion, and try and understand what they are going through? How things might look from their point of view? But, how could they think that of us? We ask ourselves, why don’t we get the benefit of the doubt? What if how they deal with things is by thinking “What is the worst that can happen? But, by doing that they almost treat us as if we’ve actually done the worst, or at least that is how we feel.

We may take offense where none was meant, and they may interpret offense where none was meant. How do we fix this? Hurt feelings on both sides. How do we apologize for things we don’t think we did or didn’t mean in the way they were interpreted?

Last night talking to friends our host recounted going to a wedding where what the groom said to the father of the bride in his speech left everyone with their mouths hanging open. The groom and father of the bride appeared to have the kind of relationship where the groom could call him a name most of us cringe at and they would laugh about it, instead of taking offense. How did that marriage work out we wondered, our host didn’t know.

I’ve heard of this, friends saying all the mean hurtful things to their friends so when someone else says these words to them, the sting has been taken out. Does it work? It might be better than being so sensitive to every tone of voice, inflection, and off the cuff remark we hear.

If you make listening and observation your occupation, you will gain much more than you can by talk. Robert Baden-Powell

We sometimes don’t see things as they really are. We think we are one thing, but we find out we are something else. It happened to me; I thought I was “the good” mother. It was a bitter pill to swallow when I realized I fell into “The controlling mother camp.” When I quit telling my kids what they should think, how they should feel, what they should do, and instead started asking questions and listening to them things got better. By changing my attitude, other attitudes seemed to change. I began to have the impact I’d hoped for not by telling, but by listening. Not by trying to control other people but by giving them space to feel their own feelings, think their own thoughts, and choose their own path. By asking questions they thought about what they wanted instead of being told what to want.

People need to be heard, for some people, this is the greatest gift we can give them. To listen to them, to really hear, and understand what they have to say. They say we should first seek to understand before seeking to be understood. Sometimes we have to get over “how things are said,” and start listening to what is underneath the words.

Can we get over our own sensitivities to understand someone else’s? Can we step into their shoes and see things from their point of view? Is there another side of the story we aren’t seeing? Is our need to be right, worth the price we are paying?

Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand. Karl A. Menninger     

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude, listening, and love.

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How to Listen So People Will Talk: Build Stronger Communication and Deeper Connections by [Harling, Becky]
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