We place almost as much if indeed a particle more attention to what another says compared to what is written; yet so often we misinterpret as a result of either communication. Getting it right from another is never as easy as predicted. Clarity is a multi-pronged device. One would think that the written word is easy to follow but we need only recall the myriad of cases taken to the highest courts of the land by the most adept legal practitioners to interpret even one word of legislation. As for the spoken word, there’s deafness and – once again – broad misinterpretation. Curiously it frequently comes as a shock to another to learn that his or her intention in saying what he or she said was completely misconstrued. Small wonder the psychopathologists have made a profession of interpretation! The elucidation is often equated as much with the time spent listening by the psychiatrist as anything else. Listening is an art.
Of the five senses we have – sight, sound, smell, taste and touch – perhaps the greatest of these is sound. An ancient friend opined he’d rather be blind than deaf because deafness was living in a glass cage. My colleague was a voluminous and adept speaker, one who enjoyed drawing room raillery. Though no longer whinnying among us I easily speculate he’d happily bear the deprivation of sight to maintain the power to communicate with others by voice in the usual manner. Sociability was his forte! This does not however address the issue of listening to what another says. My erstwhile friend did I believe often use the words of another merely as a springboard for his own somewhat repetitive banter.
Aside from the value of merely listening to another, there is the strength of interpreting their words, words which they themselves may have unwittingly misused. The meaning one casts upon the words of another may at times be more fortuitously gathered from another sensory source than sound; viz., sight – that is, analyzing the significance of how the other person appears whether in dress or by conduct. The visual “signals” (as they are so often correctly called) are nothing more than an exhibition of the obscure visceral reactions. That is a part of the problem. The visceral reactions are not always in line with the tailored cerebral expressions. One has to dig through the mire to get to the answer! Be prepared to step over idle obfuscation, knock on doors blocking entry, translate frippery into straight-forward language and simply believe what you see.
Indeed believing what one sees is conceivably the best absorption of another. Eyes to see and Ears to hear! Either perception may in my opinion require further deduction than immediate interpretation. As in the case of both words and appearance, it isn’t always what is being said as what isn’t being said. Covering is not unknown to living creatures. Birds which attack with wings opened wide or tail uplifted; elephants who storm with ears wildly flapping while trumpeting their charge; in all the proverbial growl.
Dissecting the underlying theme of another’s communications is further enhanced by asking rather than asserting (yet another exemplary ploy of the therapist). The delivery of enquiry is far less aggressive than advancing an assertion, one which notably may nourish growth of other complications.
I have always admired the talent of others. I view success as a global benefit. Sometimes younger people in particular are crying out for attention and approbation. This is not usually what they are saying or writing, at least directly. The accomplishment of the listener in this instance is to extend some gratification to an underestimated success. That’s ultimately a bit of listening with an echo!