Do we take the time to listen? Do we actually hear what people are saying. And do we truly try to understand what the meaning behind their words is? Miscommunication is a exceptionally common event. It happens almost daily between my sons. It happens at work. It happens between many couples. The route of this miscommunication is that we do not hear. We often hear the words but our own opinions or prejudices or our own agenda clouds our understanding. Especially when the discussion gets heated. A while ago a friend went to work for a business owner. Both individuals were know to have stubborn streaks. The one had had problems at previous employers and the one had had problems with previous staff. An agreement was made that if it became difficult then to preserve the friendship, they would stop, say that it wasn’t working and move on. Well, the day came when the owner called the employee in to discuss a way forward. There had been problems but the intention of the owner was to discuss the issues, address them and make it work. The employee however had already decided it wouldn’t work and from the outset did not appear interested in making it work, but rather kept saying it isn’t working and kept trying to walk out. Because the owner had his own agenda, he did not realize that the employee was trying to use the escape clause and thought he had just given up and called his attitude into question. The employee on the other hand may already have been biased against the boss due to a previous run in with the employees wife. The owner of the business had changed since the run in, but no chance was given to him to show this due to misconceptions. The employee was trying to keep the friendship but due to the lack of communication and listening he was not given the chance. Since this event the friendship has not recovered. All due to miscommunication and misunderstandings. Had either party stopped to listen, perhaps the event would not have escalated. Today I was at a meeting at which all parties were too busy putting their points across that no-one stopped to listen. Needless to say the meeting ended without resolution. Then of course there are the classics – couples date, assume certain things about their partner and are completely shocked years down the line because they had chosen to believe their assumptions rather than their ears. The irony is, the first sense we develop – while still in the womb, is the ability to hear. We recognize our parents voices, certain music and so on after we are born. Then what happens to this ability? Let’s stop and listen. Let us attempt to understand each other. Let us give each other the courtesy of listening. Perhaps if we do this, and act upon what we hear then we can make our bit of the world a better bit. May our little bit grow until all can live in appreciation of each other.