We had an open space session in one of our CPM retreats. And the topic was Silence – I went to the breakout room, and the session leader was there. He asked me, ‘Inside or Outside’ and I replied, ‘Does it matter?’ and he said no. We had just started a conversation when another person walked in, and Session Leader asked him, “Do you want to be outside or inside?” and he said, “Outside” and we had our topic discussion outside. As we were walking out I told the leader that I thought his question meant which topic would I choose – Silence inside or silence outside. We had a chuckle about it.
But this got me thinking. He said something, I understood it to be something, and we carried on with our logical yet misunderstood conversation. It was only when another person walked in the misunderstanding became clear. Now, this is a simple misunderstanding and did not have much of a consequence either. But I can imagine thousands of other conversations where I probably misunderstood what the other party was saying, or the other party did not understand what I was saying.
This is an issue because we humans use language as a significant means to communicate. How do we truly understand what the other person is saying? Does the other person even know what they are saying? Is there a meaning beneath the words we speak? Not sure, I have an answer, but I can offer the following viewpoints
Non Violent Communication: is the technique/practice that helps us listen to what is being said. It enables you to listen with your whole being without the senses to truly listen. “With NVC we learn to hear our own deeper needs and those of others. Through its emphasis on deep listening—to ourselves as well as others—NVC helps us discover the depth of our compassion. This language reveals the awareness that all human beings are only trying to honor universal values and needs, every minute, every day.” Check out the link for more information.
Silent Saint: Ramana Maharishi was also known as the Silent Saint – he rarely spoke, and still people got their answers. What would happen if we all went about our lives silently? When I go to Vipassana meditation I remain silent for 10-days, and there is a course for 60 days, 90 days where people stay silent. Life goes on well for them.
Does it matter: Does genuinely listening to other matter? We are a population of 8.5 billion on this planet earth and for the most part, life goes on with very few of use connecting with others.
Let’s talk a bit more about the “Does it matter?” – Can you imagine a world where we listened to each other without any bias/ judgment. Trust the process, and you get the results. For the most part your outer state is a reflection of your inner state. Being silent as we listen will ensure that we are heard. Understand to be understood.