The ability to understand others correctly is vital to the health of relationships. One of the key factors in communication is interpretation. An incorrect understanding will lead to an incorrect interpretation, leading to faulty conclusions, which will most likely result in the wrong response.
Whether you are a leader, an employee, a spouse, or a parent, seeking to understanding those with whom you are close will greatly enhance your relationship. Putting forth the effort to listen to and understand others communicates that you actually care about them. To disregard understanding communicates that the only thing important in the relationship is your own opinion. Scripture tells us in Proverbs 18:2:
A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.
Steps to improving the health of relationships
1. Take responsibility for understanding.
Understanding is a personal responsibility. Most of us are quick to judge rather than exercising patience for understanding. The place to start in trying to understand others is to suspend judgement and realize that there are unseen factors at work.
2. Ask questions to clarify.
Interpretation is most important. The more emotionally involved a conversation is the less clarity tends to be present. Questions must be asked in order to ensure that you are hearing what you think you are hearing. If you and I skip this step, we will likely misinterpret, misjudge, and respond inappropriately. Ask simple questions like,
- What do you mean by that?
- Why is that important to you?
- What do you want me to understand about how you feel?
3. Validate concerns.
Validate a person’s concerns even when you don’t understand. Remember this: Your lack of understanding does not make a person’s concerns invalid. When we validate others’ concerns, we communicate that we care. I’ve recently written more on this topic here.
Unhealthy relationships create stress, anxiety and avoidance. We all should desire to be in healthy relationships at home and at work. Let’s not be fools that are only interested in our own opinions; rather, let’s keep REACHING FORWARD to understand those we care about in our circle of life.
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