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Were you hearing?

After a conflict is ostensibly over, we often forget what the other person said. It may be that is was inconsequential to us and so, we dismiss it. We may not retain what was said due to the need to move on and to put things behind us. We may have blocked it because it was unbelievable, too painful to hear, too bizarre according to our version of the events, or it felt blameful and retaliatory and not something we want to remember. It may be the case that our voice took up the air space and overwhelmed the other person such that we really didn’t listen. Our need to be right, to upstage, to challenge, to grandstand, or to win may also preclude listening and hearing.

It is trite to say that careful listening is a major hallmark of effective communications and conflict mastery. Whether or not we intentionally put things aside and for whatever reasons we do not recall (or want to recall) what was said in a dispute, it is important to consider whether we actually heard the other person’s messages to us. It is whether our eyes – not just our ears – were engaged, whether our empathy and compassion were tuned in, and whether we were present and attentive. After all, what we hear if we listen carefully may be lessons to be learned about ourselves and important information to know about the other person.

This week’s ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) blog invites you to look back at a dispute and consider if you really heard what the other person wanted to convey.

  • What did the other person actually say (not your interpretation) that concerned or upset you?
  • What messages did you hear that the other person did not actually say?
  • What specifically was it that resulted in your answer to the above question?
  • What other interpretations than that/those referred to may be possible?
  • What did you observe about the other person’s facial and/or body language?
  • How did you interpret the facial and/or body language you observed?
  • What else may the person’s facial and/or body language mean?
  • What hurt you most that you heard him or her say to you directly, or that you otherwise gleaned from his or her words?
  • What did you want to hear that you didn’t?
  • What did you hear from the other person that was said (directly or by interpretation) that is a positive learning point that you plan to carefully consider?

What other ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) may you add here?

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