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PostSubject: Speak With Knowledge   Speak With Knowledge Icon_minitimeSat Oct 25, 2008 7:37 pm

What is the difference between a man and a beast?

Sometimes it is hard to tell - but the most important characteristic that sets man apart from all other creatures, is language. The ability to communicate through spoken or written words.

Through words we can touch one another's minds - and yet it is strange how seldom and how fleetingly our minds meet. Most of us have not learned to communicate very well.

Nathan Miller once remarked that "conversation is a competitive exercise, in which the first person to draw breath is declared the listener."

A lot of people I know take this competition very seriously. They plunge determinedly into conversation, hardly surfacing for air while their listeners flounder in the wash of words.

Most people don't listen with the intent to understand. They listen with the intent to reply. They're speaking or preparing to speak.

"Oh, I know how you feel." They tell us. "Let me tell you about my experience."

Psychologist Jesse Nirenberg says, "When each person struggles against the other to use the conversation for his own purposes, each feels frustrated by the other. Since both are struggling for the same thing, each is too tense to listen attentively to the other. As a result, all that each gets is the time to talk, but not the attention of the other person."

We all need to be listened to, to be understood, to be appreciated. If someone is to influence us, to receive our confidences or give helpful advice, we must first feel that he really understands us.

In one simple sentence, Stephen Covey sums up what he feels is the most important principal in interpersonal relationships. It is this:

"Seek first to understand. Then to be understood."

In his book "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People", Covey relates a conversation with a frustrated father.

"I can't understand my kid,"said the man. "He just won't listen to me."

"Let me get this right." replied Covey. "You don't understand your son because HE won't listen to you."

"That's right," agreed the man.

"I thought," said Covey, "that to understand another person, You needed to listen to him."

"Oh," said the man. "Oh, yeah! But I do understand him. I know what he's going through. I went through the same thing myself. I guess what I don't understand is why he won't listen to me."

This man had no idea what was going on in his son's head. He looked into his own head and thought he saw the world, including his son. Many of us are like that man. We think the other person views the world through our own frame of reference.

We wouldn't expect our reading glasses to suit someone with a different visual problem. Why should we expect our point of view to fit them? We need to keep in mind that the other person has different experiences, different values and a different way of looking at things. He is even likely to use different words to say the same thing.

Words mean different things to different people. One night my son was telling me about a science fiction movie he'd seen.

I commented. "You like watching weird things."

He said, "You're so negative! Everything you don't like is 'weird'."

I tried to explain that by "weird" I meant "Off beat", "supernatural". In an attempt to mend the rapidly deteriorating communication, I asked him what his favorite movie was.

He told me and I said, "Oh, that dreadful thing! I didn't like it at all."

Is it any wonder he doesn't bother communicating with me? I realise now, I was being judgmental. He took it as a personal criticism of his taste in movies.

Psychologist Carl Rogers says, "The major barrier to communication is the natural tendency to judge, - to approve or disapprove of the statements of the other person.

Judging tends to diminish the other's self esteem. It triggers defensiveness and can lead to withdrawal.

I hadn't even realised I was doing it. As Robert Bolton says, "It's like suddenly knowing the enemy and finding out it's me!"

We must seek first to understand the other person. Accept him from his viewpoint as we encourage him to express his ideas and feelings. Not only are our relationships likely to improve, but a lot more of what we say will get through.

Seek first to understand; then maybe you will be understood.
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PostSubject: Re: Speak With Knowledge   Speak With Knowledge Icon_minitimeTue Oct 28, 2008 11:10 am

its nice
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