Even little toddlers have such a desire for not only approval but actual understanding. My son used to call out to me saying, “Daddy, look at this”, in an effort to get my attention. I began to notice that when he is trying to tell me something and he didn’t think I was understanding him, he’d correct me and continue to try explaining his point to the best of his ability, pointing, waving his hands and eagerly gesturing with his entire body.
One of the most basic of all of our needs is the need to be understood. It’s one thing to be heard… as in, another person can hear our words being spoken, but what we still need is true understanding. To matter. To feel meaningful and important to another. To not have our feelings and sensitivities discounted, but instead, understood and acknowledged.
It’s the reason why we seek long-term relationships. Friendships and courtships that lack this ingredient are not healthy and typically do not last. Those that do last are usually considered abusive with one person in the couple being submissive and staying in the relationship out of a deeper fear.
True understanding is something that never comes naturally to people – we have to work at it, we have to invest in it. It’s an investment that has a tremendous payoff, but many are intimidated by the effort required.
- What is true understanding of another person?
- What are the benefits of such an accomplishment?
- How do we gain that understanding?
- Is understanding another person the same as comprehending them?
- What about reflective listening?
- What are the challenges to true understanding?