The effect of this is, let us say, that John feels that any acknowledgment of Fred’s experience implies agreement and approval, therefore John will not acknowledge of Fred’s experience.
Fred tries harder to be heard and John tries harder not to hear.
When a conversation is tense or difficult it is even more important to listen first and .
Otherwise, your chances of being heard by the other person may be very poor. In learning to better coordinate our life activities with the life activities of others, we would do well to resist two very popular (but terrible) models of communication: arguing a case in court and debating.
One recurring problem in conflict situations is that many people separate acknowledging from agreeing.
They are joined together in people’s minds, somewhat like a two-boxes-of-soap “package deal” in a supermarket.Acknowledging another person’s thoughts and feelings does not have to mean that you approve of or agree with that person’s actions or way of experiencing, or that you will do whatever someone asks.By listening and then repeating back in your own words the essence and feeling of what you have just heard, from the speaker’s point of view, you allow the speaker to feel the satisfaction of being understood, (a major human need).In courts and debates, each side tries to make its own points and listens to the other side only to tear down the other side’s points.Since the debaters and attorneys rarely have to reach agreement or get anything done together, it doesn’t seem to matter how much ill will their conversational style generates.With practice, you can learn to respond first with a simple acknowledgment.As you do this, you may find that, figuratively speaking, you can give your conversation partners half of what they want, even if you can’t give them all of what they want.For example: “So you were really happy about that…” “So you drove all the way over there and they didn’t have the part they promised you on the phone. “Sounds like you wanted a big change in that situation…” “Wow. You must be feeling really terrible…” The point here is to empathize, not to advise.If you added to that last statement, “That total SLOB!!! People need to pay for their mistakes, etc.”, you would be taking over the conversation and also leading the person away from her or his feelings and toward your own.Of course, this is a recipe for stalemate (if not disaster).People want both: to be understood and acknowledged on the one hand, and to be approved and agreed with, on the other.