The story is told of a wife growing more and more frustrated over her husband, Harvey’s, progressive hearing loss. She insisted he go to the doctor for tests and hearing aids but he claimed nothing was wrong and refused to go (you know how it can be with prideful men). She called the doctor and poured out her frustration to him, and the doctor gave her a simple way to determine the extent of her husband’s hearing loss. While Harvey was standing at the kitchen counter making a sandwich, she quietly came up to 15 feet behind him and said in a normal voice, “Harvey; Harvey, can you hear me?” There was no response from Harvey so she moved to 10 feet behind him and called his name once more, again with no response. She then moved to 5 feet behind him and said, “Harvey; Harvey…” Harvey responded, “For the third and last time, what do you want!!??”
In my experience, virtually every time I form a perspective of a loved one’s behavior, motives, feelings, etc. I later discover that my perception was significantly flawed and way different than their reality and perceptions. And just as Harvey’s wife was the one experiencing the hearing loss rather than Harvey, I most often find that I bear some accountability, whether through my own behaviors or flawed perspective, for many of the misunderstandings and frustrations that sometimes arise in my relationships with others.
Let us learn to not entirely trust and act on our initial perspectives as we try to understand the behaviors of others. First we can look at ourselves to see our own involvement and accountability, then through healthy communication we can find clarity, understanding, and empathy for those we love, and resolve issues from a place of shared perspective.