Tense, mentally poised for the worst possible outcome, emotionally hoping for the best, I watched him wriggle in the bed. His kids, the housekeeper described him as cantankerous, he was giving everyone a headache, didn't want to stay in bed and just generally a pain. The first hour went by with relatively no issues, but at the start of the second hour, Mr. Dempsey acted as everyone had described. I was ready to gently restrain him, to inform him of the need to stay calm in bed. For some reason, I heard myself ask 'what is the problem, Mr. Dempsey?' More interestingly I found myself desirous to hear his reason for wanting to leave the bed. Turns out he needed to use the restroom and so became our pattern through the day, he would move, I would ask, we would work to sort the problem. I wondered where the cantankerous man had gone; perhaps his mumbled words didn't help, perhaps others had been impatient. Perhaps he had grown frustrated, perhaps they had focused on the objective (keep him in bed) and forgotten the person. Perhaps neither had tried to understand each other, thus each others objective was buried under a cloud of misdirected communication.
Definition of the word understand:
perceive the intended meaning of (words, a language, or a speaker). This definition concentrates on the speaker
interpret or view (something) in a particular way. This definition concentrates on the hearers' mindset.
Most times as individuals we practice the second definition more than the first. We have a subjective idea or view of what another person is saying or going through. The demonstration of obedience to a set of instructions is often misconstrued as an understanding of said instructions, one is deemed to have understood an instruction if they carry out the instructions instantly. Under certain conditions, this would be true but it is not a universal indication of true understanding. Lapses within this view of understanding become apparent when one has to replicate said instructions under different circumstances or without supervision. It becomes a challenge as life never gives you the same exact situations all the time; different people, different circumstances, and even a different you.
The second problem with misplacing obedience with understanding is demonstrated by the story in the first paragraph, we go into the situation with a truckload of bias and skewered vision. This taints how we manage the situation and perhaps puts us in a position primed for failure rather than success. Instructions should simply be guidelines, tested drives for success, however, as life never wakes up with the same face each day we must be ready to help her '.i.e our life' look the best she can working with what she has.
Finally, a lack of proper understanding breeds contempt. A need to become the one who calls the shots. And thus the cycle of misunderstanding replicates itself. In the story (refer back to the first paragraph) simply choosing to understand the other person, (and I don't mean interpreting the facts based on your mindset) made a supposedly difficult situation more manageable. Mr. Dempsey feels supported in a respectful way, his mistrust of the carers intention to simply keep him in bed regardless of his needs is erased. The carers objectives and sense of purpose are achieved with elevated levels of confidence. It goes without saying that life we'll not always be easier just because we understand each other, however, understanding takes away a lot of power tussle, mental exertion, and misdirection.
Understanding opens the door to a room of possibilities and shuts the window to a whirlwind of mistrust.
The story in the first paragraph is purely fiction any resemblance to real life is simply a coincidence.
Published by Chioma Nwafor