One of the many things we can do for others, when our minds are open, is give them experiences of getting really understood by us. It depends, in part, on the way we ask questions, explore their world, listen to their responses and assemble a map of their potentials in our minds. When we're successful, they feel we really listened to them, explored with them and grasped what they've been saying to us. We picture them in ways they picture themselves. However, when our minds are closed, we cannot give others the experience of getting understood. We're preoccupied with jumping to conclusions and hearing what we want to hear as our minds are already made up. We experience anything we did not expect to hear as upsetting, cognitive dissonance.
When we feel understood by someone or a group, there are many ways we benefit from the experience:
- We get a sense of who can be trusted with revealing information that might be taken wrong by others
- We get out of vicious cycles of reacting to reactions and begin to understand how and why others react the ways they do
- We get credit for our contributions and unique value offerings from those who understand us
- We get involved in reciprocal arrangements and fair exchanges of responsibilities
- We gain a favorable reputation among those looking to understand how respectable and reliable we are
- We get get asked to handle situations, conflicts and challenging problems that we're understood to enjoy and approach effectively
- We get over our need for extra attention, revenge or isolation that persisted when we we're not getting understood
- We realize incentives and justifications to keep our own minds open and inclined toward understanding others
- We become more understanding of ourselves, our inner conflicts, our values and gifts under development
- We become more likely to get understood easily as our expectations get fulfilled routinely
In spite of all these benefits to being understood, getting misunderstood is far more prevalent. This is partly due to the predominance of closed minds. It occurs often when people have been shocked by an experience of getting misunderstood that then occurs repeatedly. Most organizations are designed to misunderstand people and keep them misunderstood in order to control them. The problems resulting from people feeling misunderstood can keep everyone so busy battling the symptoms that no one takes time to revise the underlying cause.