Seeking First to Understand

April 10, 2018



Not long ago, I pulled into our garage with a trunk full of groceries.


When bringing groceries inside, my motto is forever, "As many bags as humanly possible all at once."


With my ridiculous amount of bags up and down both forearms, I attempted to rush into the house and up the stairs to our kitchen as quickly as possible.


But my 4-year-old had different plans.


He appeared to be dottling right in the doorway (and right in my path).


It seemed that he was moving the outside rug to the inside of the house.


Without so much as calmly wondering what he was trying to accomplish, 


I snapped.


"What on earth are you doing? That rug is filthy! Why would you try to move it inside, and especially at a time like this when I'm carrying a thousand pounds of groceries on my arms!"


He immediately ducked his head in shame and moved aside so I could pass.


Something stopped me from storming up the stairs in a huff.


I felt prompted to calmly ask him what he wanted to to with the rug.


"I was trying to bunch it up so it would keep the door open for us while we bring the groceries inside." He meekly replied.


My heart sank. 


I dropped all the groceries and pulled him close.


He was trying to make life easier on me by helping.


Four-year-olds are very good at forgiving.


Seek first to understand, then be understood.


Stephen Covey points out:


"Most people do not listen with the intent to understand. They listen with the intent to reply."


Listening from empathy helps us get inside another person's point of view.


We can see the world from their perspective.


When we understand their perspective, we are much more able to understand how they feel. 


As soon as I took the time to listen to my son with the intent to understand him, my eyes were instantly opened. 


He was just trying to help me. 


And I almost missed it.


Next time you are having a conversation with someone, instead of listening with the intent to reply, 




really listen,


with the intent to understand. 


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