Day 22: Demystifying Meaning

This March I’m “slicing” a piece of my teaching day every day.11454297503_e27946e4ff_h

We sat in the room and heard the same words at the same time.

I walked away confused and sad.  I came home and turned it over in my head. By morning I still didn’t know what to make of it. Conversations started first thing in the morning. Now I’m coming to understand, everyone heard the words differently.

I’m still trying to figure it out, but I learned something.

We don’t hear the same. No matter how clear our choice of words, we hear from our perspective. And our ability to listen is compromised when emotions are high. When we are vulnerable the meaning can get tangled in our own perspective.

Fortunately, because we want to work it out, what was intended had a chance of being heard.

I wonder. How often does this type of missed communication occur and we don’t bother to demystify the meaning? How often do we assume and go on with hurt feelings?  How does this affect young children and their social-emotional behavior and the ability to learn, to be successful, to take risks?

Our words move hearts and minds in ways we can not imagine, and in ways we do not intend.

Listening in the moment is hard; we need to take the time to check in.  Or how will we know what was heard was what we intended?

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers for the March Slice of Life Challenge. Read more slices here.

17 thoughts on “Day 22: Demystifying Meaning

  1. “Fortunately, because we want to work it out, what was intended had a chance of being heard.” I think that here lies the secret of clearing up those misunderstandings – the will to want to work it out…and that comes from establishing community and trust, doesn’t it?

  2. If the past election taught us anything, it reminded us to listen to our neighbors, pay attention to different viewpoints. But it’s difficult. It’s about finding the signal from the noise.
    Kevin

  3. “No matter how clear our choice of words, we hear from our perspective.” – so true. It’s not often though that we think about it. Your slice reminded of the importance to listen beyond words.

  4. Our words move hearts and minds in ways we can not imagine, and in ways we do not intend.
    This is a powerful warning. I’m a muller; I reply the conversation over and over in my head trying to figure it out. You have a way of writing universal about things personal.

  5. Oh, that last line! My OLW this year is MINDFULNESS, but I toyed with LISTEN. I was hoping MINDFULNESS would cover both. If I was being mindful, I’d listen more carefully. It’s tough! Being fully present, fully mindful, fully listening….it does not come naturally! However, if we learn to be more effective listeners, the world would be a better place.

    • I agree! Listen was my OLW a few years back. I am continually needing to remind myself of the power of listening and the fact that we all need to become more MINDFUL of it!

  6. Wise thinking here today and so true. Sometimes I’m surprised by what I hear teachers do in their class, then when I inquire their choice, they usually share something I said, but had misinterpreted. Great food for thought!

  7. And the same applies to the written word too. We can carefully craft something only to find someone read it from another stance. We bring our own thoughts to the conversation and interpret others via them. Wise to consider always, Julieanne. Thank you!

  8. Oh, this is so true! We all hear things differently, and it’s good to remember that and give people the benefit of the doubt when our emotions get the best of us. I really loved your line “Our words move hearts and minds in ways we can not imagine, and in ways we do not intend.” So, so, so, so true. ~JudyK

  9. Listening is such an important – and often undervalued – skill. Now that we are times where many interactions are done via text or email, it is even easier to apply our own impression and tone and hot “hear” what the other person is really saying. Thank you for the reminder to listen with an open heart and mind.

  10. Our words move hearts and minds in ways we can not imagine, and in ways we do not intend. Intent vs impact is so important to think about and I agree that perspective is everything. I love how you crafted this slice — you left it vague so that the reader had to be mindful to uncover the layers of meaning. It was very powerful — it slowed me down. Thank you.
    Clare

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