We can do better
A few weeks ago, I listened to a podcast featuring a woman named Harriet Lerner. She is a psychologist who wrote a book about apologizing called Why Won't You Apologize? When I tell you this book is a game changer, I really mean it. When I heard her interview on the podcast, I was fascinated by so many things that she said. I was inspired by how thoughtful she was with her words, speaking slowly and thinking carefully about every word she said. Among the many wise words she spoke, she said that (and I'm paraphrasing) when we think about being better communicators, we always think about how we can improve our words, but one of the most important and underrated communication tools we can learn is to be a better listener.
Of course, we know this, right? "Sometimes we are so desperate to be understood that we forget to be understanding" is one of my favorite quotes that reminds me to listen with compassion. When we're in a difficult conversation, in the midst of being our most vulnerable selves, is there a better feeling in the world than the feeling of being heard and being understood? That doesn't necessarily mean you and the other person share the same feelings, although it certainly could mean that. It could just simply mean that the person really hears you and there is an acknowledgement of your feelings that allows you to feel completely validated.