How to understand others

The word understand or understanding is one of the well known word in the English vocabulary. Almost all people knows the meaning of understand. But almost all people also failed to grasp the meaning of understanding. We all the vocabulary, but fail to know the importance. Understanding is one of the most important word to know. If you don’t know it, you’ll probably know nothing. It is also one of the most abused word in the world. There are many definition of understanding but what I’m talking here is the definition that it: “to accept tolerantly or sympathetically.”

Why do we need to understand others?

Understanding is one key for us to live in harmony and peace with each other. The lack of understanding has a very great consequences. War happens because nations do not understand each other. Racial discrimination, broken marriages, crimes, etc. happens because people are misunderstood or people misunderstood other people. As Dr. John C. Maxwell, author of the book entitledRelationships 101, puts it, “Lack of understanding concerning others is a recurrent source of tension in our society.”[1]

Why we fail to understand others?

According to the book Relationships 101 by Dr. John C. Maxwell, this are the reasons why we fail to understand others: fear, self-centeredness, failure to appreciate differences, and failure to acknowledge similarities.

Fear. We fear to understand others. We have doubts and insecurities to know and understand people. We fear those who are on the top and tends to stay on where we are. In order to understand others, we must lay aside our fears and insecurities and try to know other people.

When we are not afraid to understand others, self-centeredness often block our way. We always think of ourselves first, we never think of what is good for others. To understand others we must apply this quote in our priorities:

  • The least important word: I
  • The most important word: We
  • The two most important word: Thank you
  • The three most important word: All is forgiven
  • The four most important word: What is your opinion?
  • The five most important word: You did a good job.
  • THe six most important word: I want to understand you better.[2]

Why is it that some people hate whites, others hate blacks, other still hate yellows? Why is it that there are always discriminations, division, and destruction. It is because we fail to appreciate each other’s differences. We always think of ourselves as superior from others. One key to understanding others is to appreciate each other’s differences.

Failure to acknowledge similarities. There are people who has similarities with what you are. “To foster understanding, think of what your emotions would be if you were in the same position as the person you’re interacting with.”[3]

So, let us start understanding other people and be at peace with everyone. “Knowing what the people need and want is the key to understanding them.”[4] Make it your New Year’s Resolution. For more information and tips to develop your relationship with others, try Dr. John C. Maxwell’s book: Relationship 101: What every leader needs to know.


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