We all just want to be heard



This morning I tuned in to local radio on the way to deliver my daughter's maths textbook to her school and save her from lunch time detention. (Don't worry, I'll present her with a bill for my time and travel expenses later on tonight.)

The news story playing was about an indigenous tent embassy that had been dismantled by the police. I didn't follow the full story, partly because I came in too late, but also because I heard the policeman interviewed say this:

"We were hoping it didn't come to this, we were hoping people had their say, made their point and then moved on," and "We regret that it came to this, we've got much more important things to be doing."

The words stuck in my brain and spun around a little. 

The fact is, people rarely 'have their say, make their point and then move on'. I certainly don't. 

The fact is, people 'have their say, make their point' and then make it over and over again until they feel they have been heard.

Yesterday my husband and I were on our way to town for his day off. The plan was to do a little shopping, have a little coffee and generally have a light and easy day. The plan was not to fight in the car the whole way up the mountain.

"Can't we just agree to disagree?" my husband asked after a good ten minutes of argument. "Can't we just stop fighting?"

"I can't let it go," I said, crossly and with a pout.

"Why not?" he asked.

I had to think about it for a little bit. "I think it's because I feel like you haven't even made an effort to acknowledge that my point of view might have something going for it. You've just dismissed it as wrong. And now you want me to 'move on'. But you haven't even heard what I have to say properly," I said.

He thought for a little bit. And then he said, "I guess you're right. Tell me again and I'll try to think about it from your point of view."

So we had the same discussion over again. But this time we both made a bit of effort to listen and acknowledge each other's point of view.

"How are you now?" he asked after about two minutes.

"I'm fine," I said. 

"Really?" he said. "That was quick."

"Yes it was," I said. "But this time I feel heard, so I can move on."

I'm guessing that any time we come up against a person who keeps 'harping on' about something, it's probably because the person has not felt heard. The challenge is to take the time and energy to really, genuinely 'hear' them and take on their point of view.

How to 'hear' someone? Well, that's a whole other blog post!