Never underestimate the power of understanding

Relationship Tip:

Seek to Understand

Here’s a simple piece of relationship advice. Most relationships fail, suffer, or break down because of one key characteristic—namely, the people involved simply don’t understand each other and/or try to force or coerce their viewpoint on others.

A better approach—and one that will significantly improve relationships—is to focus on understanding the other person. In fact, you will find that you can achieve agreement much more quickly by using this approach.

Rather than assuming you know the reasoning behind another person’s viewpoint, ask for an explanation. The key is to ask reflective questions. Engage in discussion. Have a conversation. Try phrases like, “Can you elaborate on that more?” “What makes you say that?” and “That’s interesting. Let’s explore that in more detail. Aim at clarifying rather than influencing.

When you use this piece of relationship advice, you allow the other person to articulate his or her reasoning. And guess what? You may find that the person’s reasoning is well worth considering. You may receive insight into the other person that will assist you in your discussions and understanding of that person. You may discover that you have more common ground than you thought. You may even change your mind about your own position on the topic.

Tip: Having the other person feel and believe that his/her reasoning is acknowledged—not necessarily agreed with—can have a dramatic influence on changing opinions.

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