Listening to Understand

In light of our world right now- this is a topic I feel is important to revisit and relearn and continuously and actively practice. 

I know that this concept is the tip of the iceberg, but in order for there to be change- within our families, relationships, or society- we have to be willing to sit down through the comfortable and uncomfortable conversations and truly listen. We need to listen to understand the person or persons sitting across from us, not to defend or respond.

Listening to understand doesn’t mean you will be able to completely relate to the other person, it doesn’t mean you will necessarily agree with everything they share, or that you have to have a similar story.  It simply means that you care about the person sitting across from you and you want to hear their thoughts and feelings. It means wanting to learn and understand their experiences from their perspectives. Listening to understand validates experiences and allows you to be present for the other person. 

Listening to understand looks like, reflecting back what you heard, asking clarifying questions, or paraphrasing what you understood from their dialogue. It means learning how you can support them- whether that be an ear to listen or taking an action- but being intentional to listen, hear, and ask what they need. 

So let’s take a minute- think about a person in your life who may feel unheard or misunderstood. A person you feel particularly disconnected with or a person that you feel close to and want to connect with at a deeper level. What would it look like to start that conversation today?

 *The information contained herein is not therapeutic advice nor a substitute for therapy. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any mental health problem. If you are located within the United States and you need emergency assistance please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room. If you are located within Colorado you may also call the Colorado Crisis Line at 844-493-TALK (8255).

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