Thursday, March 27, 2008

I Don't Understand

Don and Barbara lived to disagree. Don was apathetic and Barbara was sympathetic with everyone but Don. Barbara was definitely a BARB in Don’s side. She consistently disagree and Don was like a turtle, he always withdrew his head into his shell when another dissident subject came up for discussion. His introversion spurred her to be more domineering in every discussion – hoping to see Don “become a man.” The fight was on and on and on but they had been married for over 20 years and it wasn’t until their children stepped in that Don and Barbara decided to have “a little chat with a counselor.” (This factitious couple is a derivation of several couples ).

Going from a misunderstanding to an understanding takes work, patience and love but it really isn’t as difficult as it may seem. Take for instance, the definition for understanding in initially means (accordning to the Encarta Dictionary) “the ability to perceive and explain the meaning or the nature of somebody or something.” Now that is the hard part, “to explain” but it also means to have a “tolerant recognition of somebody else's nature or situation.” In other words, agree to disagree or agree together that it is acceptable to disagree. In the words of Dean Ancheson, “Negotiation in the classic diplomatic sense assumes parties more anxious to agree than to disagree.“

Here are a few tips on changing our misunderstandings to understandings:

1. Take Time to Listen. Probably the most important part of an ongoing discussion is to actually listen to the opposing view. Maybe catching tidbits of information that may shed light on why they feel the way they do. Or, they may actually have a valid point on which to change your stand.

"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around." -Leo Buscaglia

2. Look at the One Talking. Perhaps there is not any one single item as important in communication as the willingness to look at the one talking with undivided attention. To focus on the one talking conveys respect, admiration and interest. To sit gazing in the distance, answering the questions with a disinterest and an “uhuh” only convey to the communicator they are not important enough to listen to intently.

The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn't being said.
- Peter Drucker (1909 - 2005)

3. Respond in Love. The toughest aspect of marriage is to realize that the common union is love based. There must be an agreement between the two there will always be a win-win resolution because of love. To keep the bond of love you should draw the battle lies wisely and withdraw from the winner – loser concept. As the Bible states, “Love covers a multitude of sins.”

4. Don’t Speak too Quickly. Understanding is a process not an instant event. Information is best mused upon. Most of the time arguments escalate because of an inconsiderate word spoken too quickly. Slow down – tell him or her “I don’t understand but give me some time to think about it.” Clear thoughts come more quickly when emotions of the moment are pushed out of the way.

Do not speak quickly; it is a sign of insanity. - Bias

5. I Don’t Understand Everything. Maturity causes me to confess the more I know the more I don’t understand. Information doesn’t always understand everything. Men have yet to discover the complicated map of emotions running through a women’s heart and women have yet to comprehend the complex “caveman” they committed to on their wedding day. It is best to admit while we don’t understand we still can love.

Don and Barbara still haven’t changed but that doesn’t mean you can’t. Begin now and see what a difference it makes.

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