Hearing – or understanding?

Hear or understand?“I hear what you’re saying.”

Whenever someone says that to me, I always want to reply, “Sure. I hear the birds chirping, a car driving past, and someone on the phone 20 feet away. So what?”

People are hesitant to say, “I understand you.”

Maybe they don’t understand.

Maybe they fear they’ll be misunderstood as saying, “I agree with you,” when, in fact, they don’t agree.

(Understanding does not equal agreement.)

Maybe they’re so entrenched in their subjective opinions and feelings about the situation that making the effort to understand feels too threatening and not worth the time.

The reality is, though, that when we understand someone – not just hearing the words they say, but truly understanding their point of view – options and opportunities open up that would never be possible otherwise.

Yes, it takes more effort than just hearing their words.

Yes, it requires empathy – which, in a heated moment, may seem like more than you can offer.

And yes, it’s always worthwhile.