Once there were 2 people looking on the ground. One shouted it’s a 6! The other shouted it’s a 9! As their argument carried on a passer-by hears and asks what the issue is. Both stated the other was wrong and they were right. They asked the passer-by to make the final judgement – is it a 6 on the floor or is it a 9? The passer-by, clearly a step ahead, asks them to both swap places and then they themselves can decide… both did this and very quickly changed their opinion.
How often in life do we look at the world from a particular perspective and with our heart, mind and soul truly believe, that’s it and we are right! Only to possibly later realise there is also another perspective which is also true.
I was in my clinical practice and take my work of helping people save their limbs with great energy, passion and enthusiasm. With this I was talking to a lady on how just a small tweak in a new pair of shoes would truly make a massive difference to her.
At the next appointment, I realized there was no change and so suggested the same thing again. On it continued and I was left baffled what I was doing wrong and why she just didn’t adjust.
At the next appointment I took a different approach called listening to understand.
How often do we practice this skill?
We often listen just for the sake of listening?
We listen already trying to formulate a reply?
We maybe pretend to listen just because we have no choice?
We listen, but our mind maybe elsewhere or distracted by our phone?
Listening to understand is an amazing perspective where there is no agenda. It is as it says – giving space, acceptance and time to listen to understand what is going on for the other person. Was is worth it…or was it worth it!!!
Giving her the space, time, lack of my suggestion or pushing she told me how her fridge freezer had broken down a little while back. Storing her food in bags and putting them in her landing overnight to keep it cool. She was saving up for a fridge freezer and when she got that the next thing on her list was new shoes for sure! Wow – what a share and what an insight into her world and what is possible for her.
Little did I know that her circumstances were so tough. She was always so happy, positive and friendly. As I was so eager and enthusiastic about the benefit that the new shoes would give her she didn’t want to upset me and actually enjoyed knowing that I cared so much.
That was it – my shift in perception – to see the world from her eyes not just mine. To see what is possible for her on her path.
I could have easily taken on the emotional upset that she is just not listening, signed her up to the ever increasing list of not bothered or non compliant. Or tagged her as a non-engaged patient. When actually it is none of these things at all. All it took was some space, time and opportunity for me to see there was something else actually going on.
How often in our life, our work, family, kids, looking after our own health do we NOT do this? Instead choosing to totally ‘dig our heels in’ as the saying goes?
How often in a situation could the feelings, emotions and outcomes be very different if we just took some time to listen to each other and truly appreciate the world from their point of view.
In healthcare I believe it is a fundamental thing to be able to do……especially when someone is in a position like me and very keen on preventing problems rather than trying to firefight and cure them after they have happened. I wonder how the trajectory of things would change if we just flipped our view to the other side?
We can then see the world from each others point of view. The path that we can create to better health and happiness we can choose more appropriately.
So give it a try, next time you are with someone or even on the phone. Just try to listen and understand that person and their world. See what happens and note the insights that you gain.