I can’t really understand the who or why of someone else unless I can spend sometime in their shoes, their head, their heart. I can assume I understand but unless I assume a posture of openness and empathy, I am just imposing my stuff (values, emotions, biases) on the other.
When meeting someone new, it is important to ask curious questions and listen deeply to the answer. Hear what is being said and what isn’t. Ask a follow up question that is safe and then ask one that is personal. Make the moment about them by being present in their response. Ask, ask, ask and listen, listen, listen. Allow their words and language to seep in and be honest with yourself about how it makes you feel. Give them the time you would need to be vulnerable and acknowledge what you understand.
With people you know and love, don’t let complacency impede your caring. Don’t assume that your history gives you understanding. Ask deep questions and listen globally. Make a gentle offer of advice or assistance. Await their response before pressing any further. Can you sit in silence together without distractions? Admit what you are feeling, acknowledge what is in your span of control, listen, laugh, cry, agree (if you do), share. You will be better if you hold a piece, a previously undisclosed piece, in your hands, heart and head and they will become better by sharing it with you.
Make Today Remarkable, by being deeply curious,