Updated: Jul 19
This weekend, I was talking with my daughter, who is in middle school. She had a friend over this weekend, and I noticed a pattern arise that I often notice when I listen to her conversations. Both of them were discussing their favorite books they like to read and they both had to be “right.” Instead of saying things like, “I can see why you like that about that book,” or “That sounds cool” like I was hoping my daughter would say, she insisted she was right, and her friend was wrong. Eventually, they moved on, but this made me go back to something that I have often thought about over the years.
Big Communication Questions
1. What would happen if in schools there was a course on communication. Basic 101 communication. How to talk to each other appropriately. How to be in relationship, with parents, peers, friends, co-workers, partners in the future, etc. How to have emotional intelligence. Would divorce reduce across the nation? Would we be able to talk to each other without rage, anger, and hurt, but be able to take what one person says, validate the other person’s feelings, and understand that we can have differences, but also understand that others care about you as a person?
Listen To Each Other
2. What would happen if people listened to one another. I mean REALLY listened. Not stared at the other person’s face while they talked, and then waited to rebut what they said, or maybe didn’t even wait, but interrupted them. I also do not mean what is happening on social media where one person says their point of view, then another person comes in and discounts in a hurtful and derisive way what they said. What I mean is listened. Looked at the other person. They did not come up with a rebuttal statement, used non-verbal language to show the other person that they cared about what they said, and then attempted to understand their point of view without trying to rebut everything they say.
3. What would happen if when we listened to others, we KNEW that we can NEVER truly understand what another person is going through because each person has their own life circumstances. They come from a different background, culture, race, experience, than us. They may have had trauma, they have different family values, they see through a different lens then we do. Therefore in order to “understand” what they are thinking or going through we must ask questions, like, “Tell me more.” “What else.” OR “So, what I heard you say is ___(and repeat exactly what they said, not with your spin)”
4. What would happen if we validated each other’s feelings? That doesn’t mean… “You’re right and I’m wrong.” Validation simply means that you are willing to say, “I can see how you would feel given what you have gone through.” Or, “It makes sense that you would see things from your point of view.” You are not giving up your own point of view. You are simply validating other people’s experiences. What kind of world would we have if we could do this.
5. Most important of all is connection. We connect through empathy. Each of us can say we have felt sad, hurt, scared, pain, etc. What if when someone was telling you about their experience, what they think you were able to say, “It makes sense that you feel sad.” OR, “I’m so sad that you are hurting.” or even, “I can see why you would feel hurt by me.” What a different experience we would have with each other if we could have those conversations.
I implore you to have these conversations with each other. With your partners, children, family members, co-workers, friends. This is not a typical way to communicate. But if you communicate this way, the difference you will see in your relationships will be tremendous.