Tense, mentally poised for the worst possible outcome, emotionally hoping for the best, I watched him wriggle in the bed. His kids, the housekeeper described him as cantankerous, he was giving everyone a headache, didn’t want to stay in bed and just generally a pain. The first hour went by with relatively no issues, but at the start of the second hour, Mr. Dempsey acted as everyone had described. I was ready to gently restrain him, to inform him of the need to stay calm in bed. For some reason, I heard myself ask ‘what is the problem, Mr. Dempsey?’ More interestingly I found myself desirous to hear his reason for wanting to leave the bed. Turns out he needed to use the restroom and so became our pattern through the day, he would move, I would ask, we would work to sort the problem. I wondered where the cantankerous man had gone; perhaps his mumbled words didn’t help, perhaps others had been impatient. Perhaps he had grown frustrated, perhaps they had focused on the objective (keep him in bed) and forgotten the person. Perhaps neither had tried to understand each other, thus each others objective was buried under a cloud of misdirected communication.
Definition of the word understand:
- perceive the intended meaning of (words, a language, or a speaker). This definition concentrates on the speaker.
- interpret or view (something) in a particular way. This definition concentrates on the hearers’ mindset.
More often than not individuals tend the practice the latter definition rather than the former. We have a subjective idea or view of the other persons view and thoughts, thus when we see what we want to see in their actions or see what we think they want us to see, we feel understood. This makes it possible for us to confuse a demonstration of obedience to a set of instructions as an understanding of said instructions, one is deemed to have understood an instruction if they carry out the instructions instantly. Under certain conditions, this would be true but it is not a universal indication of true understanding. Lapses within this view of understanding become apparent when one has to replicate said instructions under different circumstances or without supervision. It becomes a challenge as life never gives you the same exact situations all the time; different people, different circumstances, and even a different you.
The second problem with misplacing obedience with understanding is demonstrated by the story in the first paragraph, we go into the situation with a truckload of bias and skewered vision. This taints how we manage the situation and perhaps puts us in a position primed for failure rather than success. Instructions should simply be guidelines, tested drives for success, however, as life never wakes up with the same face each day we must be ready to help her ‘.i.e our life’ look the best she can working with what she has.
Finally, a lack of proper understanding breeds contempt. A need to become the one who calls the shots. And thus the cycle of misunderstanding replicates itself. In the story (refer back to the first paragraph) simply choosing to understand the other person, (and I don’t mean interpreting the facts based on your mindset) made a supposedly difficult situation more manageable. Mr. Dempsey feels supported in a respectful way, his mistrust of the carers intention to simply keep him in bed regardless of his needs is erased. The carers objectives and sense of purpose are achieved with elevated levels of confidence.
His side: I want to take of my personal needs without being stuck here all day.
Carers side: I need to ensure you stay in bed to avoid any risk to your health.
- Mr. Dempsey has to stay in bed for medical reasons.
- There are certain things that can be done to make Mr. Dempsey’s stay in bed less annoying.
- No matter what is done the situation will still have some level of unpleasantness, however until Mr. Dempsey is better not much can be done about it. So everyone needs to be more tolerant.
It goes without saying that life we’ll not always be easier just because we understand each other, however, understanding takes away a lot of power tussle, mental exertion, and misdirection.
Understanding opens the door to a room of possibilities and shuts the window to a whirlwind of mistrust.
It’s been a week of growth and stretching for me, one that has shown me the inadequate depths of my understanding. I am hoping that by sharing this with you I will hold myself more accountable to understanding people.
Have a blessed week folks.
Disclaimer: the story in paragraph one is purely based on fiction any semblance to real life stories is purely a coincidence.