Avoiding confusion or misunderstandings when communicating

Everyone has an opinion, a perspective, a way they think and see things.  This point of view is the starting point of our thoughts and reasoning, which also means it’s the way we absorb information shared with us.  So, when listening to others, this means you could be listening with a tainted ear, one that listens with your own perspective in mind.  I say could because there is a choice you can make once you realize you’re listening with your own thought process and perspective, and not a neutral ear that listens (purely) to what the person is saying.  Before getting into the ‘how’ you could attempt truly listening to someone, let’s finish expanding on the tainted listening first and why it’s such an important topic to consider or at least be aware of for yourself and others.

I’d like to start with you.  How many times have you shared something (a story or experience) with someone, but no matter how or what you said you didn’t feel like you were being understood?  I want to venture a guess that this has happened to everyone at least once in their lifetime, if not more.  The reason you didn’t feel understood is probably because the person listening was either not really listening or they were, but with their perspective.  Those individuals that you do feel understood by on the other hand have your same perspective or have gone through a similar situation and therefore they can empathize with you.  The same thing can happen to someone who is sharing with you and doesn’t feel understood.  Listening from your perspective is an issue as it blinds you, at least partially, from what you’re being told by the other person.  This is why people also find themselves blindsided at times in situations where a person they think they knew, acted differently than what they thought they would.

If you look at someone or something in front of you with a filter, you are not able to see what’s in front of you, nor are you listening to what is actually being said.  If on the other hand, you’re able to become aware of your perspective and put it aside, you can tune in to what the other person is expressing (whether through actions or words).  At first it might be hard to see how you’re influencing a conversation, but if you become aware of your perspective in the act of conversation or observation you can start putting your filter aside and really tune in to the person in front of you.  This helps you to understand what they’re trying to tell you, as well as see who they are and not who you want them to be or think they should be.

In the end, dealing with other people involves two perspectives.  Even if your perspectives may be similar there’s always something they could experience differently from you and the same goes for you with them.  It is only through seeing that extra layer, your perspective, that you can remove your filter and see clearly.

How has perspective influenced your understanding of what someone tells you and vice versa?

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