The Two Most Important Words You Can Say
Image: Jason Rosewell
Those are the two most important words you can say. (Why wait until the end to tell you?)
We as humans want to be heard. We want recognition from others that our ideas matter.
Someone came up to me at work last week, furious with the lunch options for that day; not enough protein, too many carbs, and why was it being served so late?
Me ten years ago would have either told this person to take a hike, or (more likely) I would not have said much until she left and then bitched about her ungrateful ass till I worked myself into a tizzy.
Present day me simply listened to every single word she had to say, nodding and listening and occasionally saying “I understand”…
And I did! This chick was stressed, busy, and has some food restrictions. She got hangry, and goodness knows I’ve been there. Yes, she could pack her lunch and yes, us providing lunch is a courtesy but none of this is the point. The idea of “I understand” is not to judge the situation but to simply listen.
Because, in the end, that’s what we all truly want; to be understood and listened to. We want to feel like we’ve been heard, like our feelings count, and that we’re not alone.
This does not give others license to yell and scream at you. That is not the sentiment of “I understand”.
Think of it this way, go back to when you were a kid and something “kid tragic” was going on in your life. Let’s say you just started Jr. High and Patty McSpadden is threatening to “trash can” you, (a quaint term from the 80’s for someone lifting you up and throwing you in a trash can). In other words, utter humiliation. You go home and cry to your Mom who, as an adult, has a different perspective and thinks this is kind of funny. (#RealLifeExample)
NOT THE REACTION YOU ARE HOPING FOR.
Instead of laughter, imagine your mom looks right at you as you’re crying and says, “Oh honey, I understand. I get it.”
That’s what we want. We want to be understood. Empathy. Compassion.
“I understand” are two of the most powerful words you could ever say to anyone. And here’s the real magic powers of those words; you start to comprehend ideas and feelings that you might earlier have just rolled your eyes or belly laughed.
Who are you ready to understand?