The other day my wife and I were listening to music on our patio. She commented how much she enjoyed the lyrics of a song and asked if I felt the same way. My answer was “I don’t know because I was listening to the great piano playing and musical melody of the song”. Why did I have this reaction? Because I love the piano even though I can’t play it very well. She liked the lyrics because they spoke of the personal pain the artist felt from something that happened in her life and which my wife was aware of through the media.
The other instance occurred as I read a blog post the other day on the internet. It was talking about accumulating timeless wisdom. One sentence I read intrigued me. It said, “If two people read the same book, the person with the most preexisting knowledge will learn the most”. Wow — was my reaction.
In the first instance, my wife and I both heard the identical song at exactly the same time yet had different experiences with it. For the second instance, I always thought a book will teach everyone the same thing. That is why it was written. I was mistaken!
So many thoughts to share. How different life is for each of us (even when we live together). Past experiences, breadth, and depth of experiences can impact what we perceive and understand. What we know or don’t know about a situation (or in this case an artist) may cause us to focus on different things.
Then my mind wanders to how difficult clarity and understanding can be given what is shared in this post. How down to small details, we can focus and understand different things. Our attention is variable between us and not fixed. Interpretations can easily differ without taking the time to explain ourselves clearly to others.
All of this makes life more interesting and complicated. Making understanding and connection so valuable when it occurs. Taking the time to listen becomes a much more important skill to master. Assessing the understanding of someone in real-time as you communicate with each other can help immensely in clearly communicating. This type of listening is what is meant by “active listening” and why it is so important.
“Seek first to understand and then be understood” now makes a lot of sense. Knowing where the other person’s attention and understanding are upfront gives us a better chance of communicating with them more effectively going forward. Steering our explanations to help the other person better understand what we are trying to share.