I've been hanging out with a bright bunch of people recently, who have really opened my eyes to the world of emotional intelligence and it got me thinking about how we understand each other. Not just me and my friends, but how everyone in society shows some sort of mutual understanding towards each other.
My thoughts on understanding were sparked during my day job as an account manager:
I have to understand my team, the project manager, how my colleagues work, how I work, how the company works, company processes, how not to work, whether deadlines are realistic, how to help, when not to help, how to write to clients, what the client needs, what the client wants...you catch my drift.
So, I began to think about how understanding everyone is essential to everyday life. We all need to understand how everyone around us works, what makes them tick, just so that we can get on with life. But, I think it's something we often take for granted, especially with the hustle and bustle of everyday life. How often do you sit back and think, "Wait, what do they really mean by that?" It's easy to brush this whole blog article off with a "What's she talking about, of course I _understand _what's going on."
Well, maybe start by imagining if we didn't understand that a smile meant someone was happy or that tears meant that they need cheering up. I take it for granted that I can put a smile on a friend's face by simply understanding their sense of humour and they understand that giving me a huge hug will probably make me freak out. Understanding one another has to be one of our most overlooked instincts (yes I'm simplifying it, I know) but maybe, just maybe, if we took an extra ten seconds during our conversations to really understand the situation and the people involved, we could be even more efficient, effective and productive.
Understanding isn't just about absorbing information, it's about analysing what's going on. It's about thinking that extra bit harder about who has said what, what's going on around you and how things are happening. Contextualising a situation, rather than just understanding the words. Dig a bit deeper and try to figure out what's really going on.
Understanding means we're taking the time to really listen. Not only to what people are saying, but what they're not saying. We shouldn't just be listening to words but to emotions, and understanding the whole sentence, conversation or expression and not just the bits we think are important or interesting. Taking the time to really understand can make a huge difference, so I know I'm going to be making more of an effort to do so. Are you?
Let's start an understanding experiment, take the time to understand people that little bit more and let me know how it goes!