In the article of “40 Things to Say Before You Die” Forbes version, the number one on the list is ‘I understand’.
Around last week, I had quite a long conversation with my old friend, just for the sake of catching up. I told him about several important things going on in my life, involving the urgency for decision-makings, which require big commitments and efforts.
Instead of telling me what to do, or asking why the hell I chose several projects beyond things I normally do, his first sentence was, “I understand.” I was fascinated. I never knew the power of those two words until I heard it myself.
‘I understand’ reflected his thoughts and feelings. It reflected active listening. It reflected active feeling. It reflected how he tries to stand from my perspectives, before giving solutions or judging. By saying ‘I understand’, he conveyed how he stood beside me, not on my opposite side. And most importantly, ‘I understand’ lowered my defense because I knew he was listening intently and he put efforts to understand; then therefore, I was open to any suggestions and solutions.
I guess the art of listening doesn’t only involve eye contact and ‘uh-huh’ at the end of each sentence. Furthermore, it involves the understanding of the listener. It involves the sentence of ‘I understand’.
Since then, I really understand the importance of the sentence and the actual understanding. I used to say that a lot, but since I have never really heard it for myself, I never realize the impact that it does toward people.
And then I thought to myself: people always try a thousand ways to go through someone’s heart, while I guess, all you need to do is adding a little understanding, a sincere one, then you will find his heart.
I guess this is one essential form of love: to understand; to really understand. The paradox of understanding is: the more you understand people, the more people would try to understand you, the more people would open themselves up to whatever you are suggesting.
Next time, whenever you have a conversation with people, understand them; really understand them: what makes them say those things, how they really feel, are they hurt, why, what they think. Give them enough time to explain themselves; and then you may go on with yours. If they don’t give you enough credit for understanding and time to explain yours, well, at least you have understood why they do that, don’t you?