Ship30for30 Day 7 - Do You understand?
Do You Understand?
The other day, I had a moment where I brushed off someone’s openness while we were catching up. They offered up a struggle they were having to which I replied “I understand how you feel.” At the time, I didn’t think anything of it.
Later, while writing an essay on empathy, I realized, I brushed off their openness and vulnerability with “I understand” shifting the conversation to something else instead of being curious and understanding about what was going on. Instead, I made an assumption based on our shared experiences about what they were going through, and I didn’t listen to what was being said, and the emotional implications of the statement.
What would have been best to do instead of saying “I understand”? Sometimes “I understand” is the best thing to say in a situation; sometimes curiosity and empathy are the best actions.
Do we want only want validation or someone to really understand?
I can’t speak for everyone; I’d prefer people to really understand. Understanding takes time, the courage to explore with someone, and the humility to put the emotional needs of the other person in the conversation ahead of ours.
If I could repeat that conversation, I’d approach it with more curiosity, courage, and empathy, instead of avoiding the conversation with an “I understand how you feel.”
Next time, instead of saying “I understand,” I’m going to more available by having the courage to explore and ask questions to gain a greater understanding instead of shifting focus.