Guiding Light: Communication – 4

In the previous article in the series on Communication, we had spoken about the need for understanding. One of the biggest complaints I hear all over the world is ‘No one understands me.’! This is because we have consciously or subconsciously decided that understanding another person is agreeing with him/her. And hence, the third principle – Understanding is not equal to an agreement. It is only after we choose to understand that we can choose to agree or disagree with the person. Once this is clear we are free to understand others in personal or professional relationships. We are free to listen and understanding anyone and everyone in the world. We are free to understand our own emotions, desires, biases we may have.

We can be free enough to understand the enemy as well if one has an enemy. Or else we can be caught off guard. There are techniques such as active listening where one listens without judgment and questioning and has empathetic responses to people. These techniques have developed from this fundamental principle that understanding is not equal to an agreement. When you understand another person you validate that person’s thinking, feeling without necessarily agreeing. This validation in the form of understanding is important for everyone. We can do this only if we are clear in our minds. If we internalize this principle, we are not threatened, anxious or insecure about what the other person is saying. It is likely that the other person is asking for understanding first not necessarily agreement.

And I can happily give that understanding. I am not compelled to agree! In fact, much of therapy is based on this point. The therapist will show her understanding of what you are saying though most of the times they may not agree with what you are saying. It works fine and the client learns to handle their issues. Just to find someone who can understand them has been such a gift to them. So why can’t we try to bring this principle into our relationships, not as a therapist but a person who chooses to understand people around us.

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