How We Listen and Hear
Communication is essential for every species on Mother Earth. It’s used for organizing a hunt for food, locating group members, mating, in play and in some cases for singing. No matter what the species, some form of communication is going on through vocalization and body language. Some animals may not ‘vocalize’ in the way we think of it, using sound vibration such as a cricket’s legs or lobster’s claws. But clicking, tweeting, howling or with words, communication is still going on all around us. The more complex the communication, the more room there is for miscommunication.
Which brings us to humans. Thanks to our ability to rationalize, we have often made a mess of communicating with others. We start at an early age trying to decipher tone and body language. We realize quickly what love, compassion, laughter and anger sound like. But even when we’re young it can be hard to distinguish between anger and frustration or compassion and love. Our elementary school teachers are often good at showing compassion, but many young children can’t distinguish that kindness from love, in the similar form that we receive from our parents. And body language is totally confusing with all of its subtleties, no matter what age you are. So we use our rationalization to read into what we hear or see and try to interpret the communication the best we can.
As we grow up and go through life’s experiences we develop more methods of interpretation. Our experiences shape our perceptions not simply with the tone of what we hear and see, but in the interpretations of what we hear and see. And this is where we begin to mess things up. We hear what we want to hear because we are basing our interpretation on past experiences.
One of the easiest places to see this dynamic is in current and past relationships. How you react to your current partner is in part based on how you were treated and the experiences you went through with a past partner. Especially if that past relationship was a deeply serious one. What a current partner might say today in no special or specific way, can be taken as a deep criticism because of a past negative experience. The offended party may ‘read into’ what was said and based on those negative experiences from the past they can hear something totally different from what was meant or even what was said. With hurt feelings and anger, the fight ensues. Often leaving the speaker in total dismay of what happened. Even after an explanation, the hurt feelings remain.
But where does the resolution to these communication failures come from? Well of course they come from within. We are responsible for not only our actions, but how we take in energy from others. We determine how to react to their comments and we decide how it affects our emotions. If we can keep in mind the factors that influence our hearing, we can stop negative reactions before they happen. We can say “Ok you may not have meant it this way, but this is what I heard and how I feel”. By being responsible for your own emotions you can share your experiences and begin healing the wounds of the past together, instead of struggling through the drama and trauma alone. But we have to begin that process by being honest with ourselves and accepting the wounds of the past. Only until we accept those issues can we begin to heal them and replace them with positive instincts that will help create better communications.
–> The Art Of Communication – II – Expectations & Assumptions
© 2012 Springwolf, D.D., Ph.D., Springwolf Reflections / Spring’s Haven, LLC. All Rights Reserved.