Do you want to be understood? Your feelings, circumstances, and point of view, for example. Do you make an effort to understand other people, even your closest friends? Most people, while wanting to be understood, do not simply have the time or energy to listen closely, really empathize and attempt to understand one another. Yet, innately, we each desire to truly feel understood.
Why is it that while we want to feel understood, the ability to understand one another is so challenging?
Here are some tips to create more understanding in our lives, especially for those who we care about:
1. Assume the least about the other person, reserving your judgment as much as possible, while showing genuine empathy.
“Our days are happier when we give people a piece of our heart rather than a piece of our mind.” This quote summarizes how empathy and understanding can bring satisfaction to us while providing comfort to others. This cycle of satisfaction and comfort can also prevent and solve many problems in our social lives. Appreciating our differences in opinion, meanwhile, is a building block to understanding one another.
2. Try to listen to understand, rather than listening to reply.
“The biggest communication problem is that we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply.” It is okay if we fail to understand but have the courage to reply I don’t know to how to reply to that. That sounds tough. It’s better to face the truth instead of replying without showing understanding.
Consider friends and family. We might not have an answer for why someone could be feeling frustrated, angry or upset. The wisest thing to do, according to the above quote, is to try and just listen, and be a vessel of comfort.
3. Give your own self the most understanding.
Quite possibly, the reason we don’t have the time or energy to understand one another could be because we don’t have a close understanding of ourselves. Do you give yourself permission to express yourself? Do you think it’s okay to feel a certain way? Be kind to yourself. Your skills in understanding others can strengthen, essentially through practice, by learning first and foremost to understand yourself.
4. Consider learning to understand others as a strength, not as a weakness.
Perhaps some might consider showing understanding or empathy as a weakness. Question this. Think about how many quality friendships you might gain, or lives you might uplift, by becoming more understanding. As I have written before, quality relationships are shown in very recent research to be the No. 1 predictor of health and happiness long into old age. This is one convincing reason to have more understanding in our lives.
5. Remember, you get back what you ask for.
Oprah once wisely said, “You get in life what you have the courage to ask for.” The fact of the matter is, our journeys take effort. You might be searching to be understood. Or want to be more understanding towards a loved one. Whatever it is, be courageous enough to look for it, and the return might be closer than you think.
While we are each a work in progress, becoming more understanding will certainly give us more comfort and support in our lives, while strengthening close bonds. Try these 5 tips, and hopefully you will see the added benefit!