Thursday, February 18, 2010

Open Ears

Often we grow up hearing others give us their advice on how things should be done, whether or not we need it at the time. Though laced with good intent, being spoken at in such a manner carves a divide between those involved, growing greater as it continues on. In time, the distance can grow enough to weaken and ultimately destroy any relationships involved, regardless of how many years they have between them. On the other side of the coin, years of damage can be swiftly repaired when this ends, and understanding begins. From my travels I’ve both witnessed and experienced the impact someone feels when they feel they are understood for who they are, not who the person perceives them to be.

I freely admit I’m guilty of going on at length about something with those I wish to help or hold a modicum of respect for. Despite that, I’ve given countless people my ear over the years, and the kinds of things I hear people reveal to me never cease to amaze. Likewise, whenever I speak of more personal things with someone I trust, I can always feel an amazing weight lifting from my shoulders, as well as gaining a greater insight into what my next step should be. Not only do these things fuel my desire to keep my ears (and subsequently my heart) open to others, but also seeing the kind of deep, long lasting hurt having heartfelt words fall on deaf ears can inflict on a person. I can think of nothing more disheartening and painful than the isolation of going unheard can bring, no matter the speaker’s intent.

One key thing I take away whenever I meet someone is the importance of open, honest communication. Of course there are always social norms and other things about the person to keep in mind, but in my view speaking with others without any agenda or unseen intent produces the kind of conversation that deepens the bond two people share and lets both parties know one matters to the other.  Whether it’s psychiatrist to patient or friend to friend, it’s this level of trust that dictates how each regards the other and how the relationship blossoms, something long forgotten yet utterly important in this age of instant connections.  One sentence rooted in allowing the other person’s view to be considered and dealt with on a level that dignifies them holds much more significance than a 2 hour speech full of helpful information, but treats the listener no better than we’d regard simpletons. Silver tongues can get you far and wide, especially now where it can be seen in global capacities, but even those hold the foundation that those being spoken to are granted that base level of respect, understanding and consideration. 

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