Should we try to understand those we respond to more, before we engage in voicing our own feelings?
After being the subject of an attack on my profession in writing and a former one, I was extremely angry, until I read the profile of the one who was so forceful and seemed to be driven by his unkind remarks. I read how life had been such a burden to this individual and could only guess at what he had been through in his years. He lost many family members and suffered greatly. I began to understand why he felt and voiced his opinions so strongly. Should we not all take a closer look before we condemn others?
I agree that listening first makes sense for many reasons. One, that you describe, is to understand those who attack us, and activate our compassion, rather than fighting fire with fire. Another is that, very often, such painful conflicts include a misunderstanding, and there might be a lot less hurt involved than we thought.
As I see it, you have had a powerful insight about understanding and compassion, and you're right on target.
Two sources remind us of this. One is a line from the St. Francis Prayer, "seek to understand, more than to be understood."
The other is Habit 5 of Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, which is, "Seek first to understand, then to be understood." Both are important, but listening deeply comes first. When we listen deeply with compassion, as you did, we often change what we want to say. (Check out my hub on Habit 5, and all the 7 Habits, if you like.)
Conversely, should not the person lashing out stop and try and understand how hurtful this attack might be?
We all have baggage and some of us more severe than others, but that does not give us a pass to treat our fellow human beings like trash. We ALL have feelings and need understanding.
Understanding can only work if we ALL work at it--people should not use a hard life, or a chilling past as an excuse to treat someone wrongly.
Duffsmom - I agree with you. And, at the same time, if others don't seek to listen first, I'm not going to focus on that. I'll do what I can do. I'll lead by example, then ask to be treated civilly. If yes, friendship restored. If not, time to let go
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