I avoid Christmas music as much as possible, but sometimes a song makes it through and gets stuck. It’s not that I hate Christmas music. It’s just that there’s only so many times I can hear the same songs over and over again without them making me twitchy.
I must have heard ‘Do You Hear What I Hear?’ at some point over the last few days because that phrase and a little bit of the melody has been playing in my head. But then I started thinking about the question outside of the context of the song. It seems like an important question to ask if I’m ever going to increase the effectiveness of my communication.
It’s the perfect time of year, with all of the family gatherings, to test this. I like to wait until R.J. and I are talking with the same person and then later on I ask him for his take on the conversation. We’ve been together for so long that his take usually matches up with what I thought was being said, but sometimes he sees, hears, or interprets something completely different. Then I have to go back and ask myself if I was even listening to what was being said.
There are so many variables that make up communication, not the least of which is the experience each person brings that can color their interpretation of what’s being said. The crazy thing is that most people just assume that everyone else thinks just like them. I’ve covered how I feel about assumptions and this is the perfect example of why they make me angry.
There is no way you or I should ever expect anyone to share our thoughts and opinions exactly for the simple fact that no one else has lived our lives. No one else has had to make the decisions we’ve made or fought the battles we’ve had to fight. So why would anyone else take the same things away from a conversation that we would?
So in this context the answer would be no. You don’t hear what I hear, but you know what? That is perfectly okay! As long as I know that going in and am willing to take an honest look at my reactions – like if I get offended by something someone says, but then later on realize it wasn’t intentional – and don’t react irrationally before hand, then these different interpretations can be a good thing.
So I challenge you over the next few days to find someone who’s opinion you trust to play a little game of ‘Do You Hear What I Hear?’ with a conversation or two. I think you may be surprised by the results!