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Listening beyond Words

How many times do we assume others can, and should, read our minds? If I say, “The dog needs to go outside” and believe someone will know what I mean by that statement, it could be a half-dozen or so ways to interpret the meaning. Does it mean I’m getting ready to let the dog out? …It’s raining, and although he needs to go out, he won’t since it is raining. …It’s sunny, and he will like being outside? Or, perhaps, a request for someone! Will you let the dog out?

How many times do we assume our words and tone are enough to convey the accurate meaning of our message? Of course, our values, beliefs, mood, experience, personality, motivations, needs, preferences – all act as filters and influence how we communicate.

After I thought about this, I began listening to others a bit differently after that part of the class, a bit more objectively. I started to think about how I choose to communicate, and exactly what I am trying to communicate. Is it a fact, assertion, perception, judgment, request, offer, agreement, wish, complaint?  When you have a breakdown in communication, it seems you can trace it back to an interpretation which either wasn’t correct or failed to understand the real issue. I’m going to listen to conversations and just notice what I hear today.

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