It is February the 1st today (officially the hardest month to spell)! The beginning of so many things. It is black history month for one. A lot of people I know actually have concerns with February being black history month...the month with the shortest amount of days. I mean hey, there are NO months to celebrate the other minorities. Also today is the beginning of the rest of the year! That's right people, January is usually the tester month. Are we REALLY gonna do all those things we said we were gonna do this year? January was the test, February is the application. Last night I really wanted to finish the book I was reading before the end of the month, so I stayed up pretty late and technically finished at around 3am, but for the sake of the matter, let's just say I finished it in January. I'm really glad I finished reading the book because it was simply amazing! And now for this month, I get to actually practice what I learned from the information I received. There were so many points in 7 Habits... all of them amazing. However, there is one habit I really related to. Coincidently, it's the habit the author said he struggled with the most. It is the 5th habit of the book, and it simply states; "seek first to understand, then to be understood".
This book has really turned me into a wannabe Deepak Chopra. I just wanna share the knowledge and practices with everyone I know! I suppose the best way to do that is through my blog, so here we go! Apparently, Habit 5 is all about listening, right? But in reading the chapter, and book, in it's entirety, I've come to know that the "listening" I've been use to doing is nowhere near as effective as it could be. Usually, when people "listen", they aren't really listening at all! The conversations I have with others almost always seem one sided. Someone will talk to me about what is going on with them. I tend to be quiet and compliant with nods and such, but I'm only doing that so I can hurry up and get through their story so I can tell mine. In the end, I often don't feel anymore understood than I was before. That's why sometimes catching up with people after not having seen them for a while, they ask me OBVIOUS questions about my life... that are so freakin' obvious! It's like, have you ever listened to a word I said?
The problem with listening is that people are so quick to respond without a true and full understanding of the situation. In the book he gave a really good example about a doctor (which I will switch up a little bit to reflect a situation closer to home). Going to a doctor's office or a hospital with a complaint, we feel as though it is a good idea to express fully and completely everything that is the matter with us. I have done this plenty of times before. I would write down every single symptom I felt so I wouldn't forget anything. We want doctors to have ALL the available information about us, including but not limited to, our internal and external feelings, mental state, anything inherited, as well as the backstory of the problem. When we get to the hospital, and it's completely overcrowded, super slow, and depressing up in there, finally getting to see an actual person seems like a relief. However, the relief is short lived when we feel so rushed by the doctor when we come face to face. There was a time I remember when I waited (in an "emergency" room mind you), for almost 5 hours, just to see an actual doctor for about 5 minutes. I had a problem with my throat I think. And the fool didn't even look at my throat! He just asked me a bunch of questions and prescribed me something! Apparently, I had the symptoms of tonsillitis? (To this day, I still owe about $1300 for that lovely little visit. Which I refuse to ever pay!) Needless to say, the prescription did nothing for me, and I continued on in pain. How many problems go misdiagnosed due to sheer lack of understanding?
We spend most of our waking hours doing some form of communication. Which means, we probably spend most of our waking hours MIScommunicating. To often we rush through communication in order to get our own point across. What about the point someone else is trying to get across? If we do not listen, how on earth can we expect to be listened to?
The practice of understanding involves much more than just listening. It involves empathy. In addition to the words, people communicate non verbally as well. Taking in a complete sense of a person's overall feeling and tone can greatly improve our understand of what is being said. I've since tried to use some of the techniques described in the book. It is pretty freakin' hard! The way we've all been programmed is totally adverse! It's gonna take a lot of hard work to get better at listening to others. I'm actually pretty terrible at it. I really love to zone out during long conversations. But I'm sure the pay off will be so great in the end. I'll have so much more real insight instead of a bunch of preconceived notions about other people's problems and concerns. Understanding a person can also help them to open up more about what the underlying problem factors are. Most people are reluctant to expose their innermost feelings because they don't feel listened to. Take me for example. Around a group of new people, I am the most silent thing you've ever seen! A lot of people take that as a sign of being shy. That is such a surface observation! The thing is, if I don't feel as though I'm really being listened to, I won't say anything. The same is true for the people who we DO know. If someone feels as though what they are already saying isn't really being understood, why would they go any deeper in expressing their more vulnerable feelings?
The next time you are speaking with someone, try to not say too much. Don't be so quick to respond. Get all of the information, and whole heartedly try to feel what the other person is feeling. Also, you should really just read the whole book, because the author explains everything so much more eloquently than I do... this is just a taste! A literal amuse-bouche if you will (which reminds me, I have to go somewhere for Restaurant Week! It's over on the 5th!) I'm going to try to practice effective listening this week. I will let you all know how that goes. Hopefully it will open my eyes to a whole new world! A world of deeper understanding.
p.s. I've been watching a lot of Sex and the City lately (I just discovered I have an HBO Go password, yay!), and those b*tches are TERRIBLE at communicating with one another! I don't even know how they are still friends! One episode, Charlotte gets engaged and tells all the girls at lunch. No more than 30 seconds go by, and Carrie is running her mouth about some guy who dumped her. Did you even hear what your best friend said?? She's freaking getting married! Nobody wants to hear about your depressing men problems right now girl... so rude!
p.p.s Yesterday, I went to go see the movie "Brooklyn". I had no idea what it was about before I went. During the movie, I kept wondering "what the heck is this even about??" It was pretty slow moving. Not a lot of excitement. The main character was pretty darn boring too. All the while, I was thinking, why is this movie so sloowwww. However, well after the movie was done (and well after I finished the 7 Habits book), I wondered if I had actually even paid attention to everything that was going on in the movie. I found out that the movie had been nominated for best picture, best actress, AND best adapted screenplay. Also, it was named one of the best films of 2015 by a large number of critics. Did I miss something in my lack of listening and understanding? Why was I in such a rush to get to the action? I probably missed everything the movie was actually trying to communicate.
p.p.p.s. The next book I will be reading is "Who Moved My Cheese". This is a pretty easy read if anyone would like to read it as well. Perfect for my first February BBC book (Bretony Book Club. Yes it's a thing!)