Drops of Awareness

small bits of knowledge for easy conscious infusion into your life

Why We Don’t Listen to One Another

listeningIn 1996 I learned an amazing lesson for myself when I took my first Landmark Forum. The program is an eye-opener for those curious in why life is going the way it is for us. We learned more than a dozen powerful insights or distinctions that weekend. When I returned home, I remember having an interesting conversation with my husband.

  1. I made a statement.
  2. He perceived it based on what he thought I meant.
  3. Then he reacted to his point of view.
  4. I told him that was not what I meant.
  5. He said but you said such and such.
  6. And around in circles we went!

It took me 3 tries explaining this distinction until he got that his perception of my intention was not the same as my intention! 

I realized he was actually having a dialogue with himself! I might as well have left the room because it was between what he believed I meant and his response to that!

Sixteen years later, having a conversation with a married gentleman at a social function (he was attending one of my mastermind groups) he shared about a breakthrough he had with his wife. As he told the story of realizing he really had never listened to her (the thing she kept telling him she wanted), the lesson from long ago ‘popped’ into my mind, as clear as it was all those years ago. I shared my conversation with my husband all those years ago … and he said exactly! I can share that his wife was thrilled that he got this because he was LISTENING TO HER, finally!

This is about distinguishing our perception of what someone else means … and checking in with them to see if the perceptions and your intentions match.

How often do we react to what someone says based on what we ‘think’ they meant?
How often has someone reacted to what you said — and they were way off base?

Without distinguishing this for ourselves, we never really listen – really listen to what people are saying. We are simply interpreting what we hear, based on our own view of the world; no two views are identical by the way, and then having a dialogue with ourselves!

Perception changes with new information so our ‘view’ of things changes when and if we actually take the time to find out what the other person really meant and wanted to share.

To make a change right now in your own listening, it would mean simply stopping a moment and asking the other person “did you mean this when you said thus-and-such?” (Successful sales people use this technique all the time with their clients. They know if their potential client is not ‘heard’ they will not buy.)

Without intentionally taking this next step, the other person is left unheard — and our greatest desire as humans is to BE heard and to MATTER. One person is right and the other is left feeling wrong. There is no room for a real dialogue. There is no collaboration. There is no growth.

Consider —  WANTING to know what they meant so you can find out WHY they said it and then expanding your own perception … while theirs is also expanding!

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3 thoughts on “Why We Don’t Listen to One Another

  1. Stephanie on said:

    Leslie, Great post. We are always listening from our own frame of reference.

  2. You remember what they say on the first day of the Landmark Forum…you don’t listen, you never have, and you never will! 🙂 I think that the problem isn’t with the fact that people don’t listen, but with the fact that most people think they DO listen when they have no idea how little they actually hear.

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