Recently, my friends and I have been involved in more than a few discussions about the dearth of mutual respect, consideration and cognitive dissonance seen in the country today. We all understand the political landscape is dividing us. Often this entails demonizing the “other side”. We are all saddened by that. Unfortunately, this paradigm can be the same when it comes to interpersonal relationships. Is there really an “other side” when it comes to personal relationships, or is there a lack of mutual understanding and openness to hearing viewpoints that can contradict our beliefs and feelings? Opposing ideas might shake our core beliefs and guide us to look inside ourselves for self-exploration. This can put us into a vulnerable place, outside our comfort zone. This is not to say that once we hear other ideas it will change us, but the concept of listening fully, giving true consideration without anger or judgement, then allowing ourselves to connect with opinions based on facts presented (rather than knee jerk reactions) without taking it personally when there is a difference of opinion... is not easy.
I have been a musician for many years (too many to think about) and in that time I have learned the concept of collaboration, even if ideas presented do not align with my own (usually the case). The spirit of true collaboration and expression can only exist in a safe environment, where your collaborators feel comfortable and know that their ideas will not be shot down immediately. They have confidence that they will be given the consideration they deserve. The ability to do this can breed deep friendships, because once there is an understanding that people are safe, other ideas and deeper thoughts and feelings are shared.
Have you heard the term “fair-weather” friends? What is the difference between that and “true” friends? My opinion is that it comes down to the ability to listen fully, to allow the space to be fully heard, to be vulnerable while being present in the presence of others. Taking off your self-protective armor, and opening the visor. It’s all about mutual respect, vulnerability, consideration, trust, and understanding. Allowing yourself to fully listen, actively listen, reflectively listen, deliberately listen; with empathy and love… this is the glue that supports respect, be it between friendships, bandmates, or political affiliations. Respect by actively considering what you are hearing and listening to; differences of opinion, differences of ideologies, religious beliefs, sexual proclivities and gender self-identification, even if it disagrees with your concept about “how things should be”. Why is this not easy to do?
Why is it so difficult to actively listen? Why does need2Bheard need to exist? Here’s my opinion; we are brought up learning how important it is to protect ourselves, from bullies, predators, “the other side”. It’s easy for that “gray area” of existence to filter into other aspects of day-to-day living, the urge to stay walled off, to self-protect. This instinct gives us the tools to “watch our backs”, yet can push away those who offer alternate views. The issue is that resistance is engrained and breaking through that veneer takes lots of personal effort. This is why relationships that are true take time to grow.
Have you ever been in a position where there is an invisible wall between you and someone else where you just can’t put your finger on why it exists or what’s going on? The unspoken cloak of mistrust? The perception of disrespect or miscommunication, or worse, non-communication?
But, what if there was a different way? need2Bheard wants to be more than a virtual listening environment. As thought leaders, we want to spread the vision of truly listening, of formulating and maintaining relationships that are synonymous with love, understanding, humor, and empathy. The real reason we are here is to love and understand each other. How often do you see that in your everyday life? How much would you like to see it?
Ask yourself; why is our country so divided? Why do so many relationships fail? How can people learn to open themselves up to really listen and understand what others are saying?
The difference between hearing and understanding; hearing is when you are aware of the existence of sounds. Active Listening is defined by need2Bheard as making a real effort to not only pay attention, but to absorb the feelings behind the sounds you are hearing, and be aware of the non-verbal cues and vocal inflections in order to be so present with your collaborator so that their feelings become yours. Allow yourself to be the friend/partner/lover who gives safe space and freedom. THIS is the basis of long-lasting understandings and relationships.
What would the world be like if our core values were love, understanding, compassion, empathy? Let’s find out!