Seek first to understand... | INFJ Forum

Seek first to understand...

Discussion in 'Philosophy and Religion' started by Satya, Mar 30, 2010.

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  1. Satya

    Satya C'est la vie
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    This principle is the most essential to social work, and one of the most difficult for me to obtain. I tend to prefer to first seek to be understood then challenge people to prove me wrong. In your opinion, why is it more important to first understand other people before making yourself understood to them?
     
  2. Wyote

    Wyote Xenoi
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    This is basically how I live. It may simply be personal preference honestly, but to me it has always felt much more beneficial to understand others first. In doing so, I can approach things on my own terms with an ability to communicate in ways that are far more effective in reaching others than if I were to simply go at it... so to speak... which when I do attempt, always results in some sort of failure in communication.

    If everyone truly sought to understand first and foremost, I believe things would become much more efficient and... perhaps calm.
     
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  3. testing

    On Holiday

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    Good question!

    I think probably the #1 answer would be that you have to understand at least a little about the other person and their mindset/worldview/capabilities before you even know if they are able to understand you. Some people, for various perfectly logical reasons, are simply unable to understand others, so you might as well try to understand them or you will be hitting your head against a brick wall and that is never fun...
     
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  4. rawr

    rawr ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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    it's hard for me to flesh out an explaination, but IMO, it is only when you understand well and fully that you can properly be understood. By seeking first to understand the people or situations you are dealing with, you will know how best to communicate with them. For istance, if you are counselling someone, are the best with the hard, cold truth, or a gentle motivation? Really when you undertand first, it will make your job a lot more effective i think.
    does any of this make sense or am i just babbling pointlessly?
     
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  5. Shai Gar

    Shai Gar Guest

    otherwise you do not know what you are arguing about. Which is why legislation is 2/3rds definitions.
     
  6. Bored Now

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    That's interesting. That's pretty much how i approach life. Seeking to understand first. I have little concern about being understood, but I find other people fascinating. Their motivations and their perspectives are all endlessly interesting to me. The problem with that is that once I understand someone, I empathize with them. Which is fine, but I will be honest and say my empathy will kill my objectivity every time. It's a balance, I guess.

    I guess i don't care about being understood because I'm frequently misunderstood and I've come to see it's not the the end of the world if people don't "get" me. It doesn't invalidate me or my perspective if people don't understand why I'm right about everything and that I'm clearly the wisest woman in the world. They eventually come around anyway. I'm kidding about some of that, but I'm not sure which part yet.
     
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  7. Wyote

    Wyote Xenoi
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    +1 lol.
     
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  8. LadyINFJ

    LadyINFJ Community Member

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    Lol, Janet, so well said :) +1
     
  9. Sloe Djinn

    Sloe Djinn Idiot with Internet Access.

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    I think that I'm better equipped to work with anyone in a target population when I am able to develop a sense of that person's feelings and motivations. By trying to understand them first, I think that it aids me in helping them to see solutions to a given problem from their own viewpoint if at all possible.

    From my limited experience in the mental health field, I believe that it is of primary importance to develop a trusting relationship between myself and a given client in order to work with that person. One can't count on a client to be open and honest without that sense of trust. In my experience, the development of a good rapport was always more easily accomplished by showing the client that I approach our interaction in a role of servitude. My job is to help them, and I am very interested in their feelings, motivations and experiences because they know themselves more intimately than anyone else.

    A doctor may see a patient presenting with a headache. Simple fix. Just take some aspirin and the problem is solved. A good doctor will ask the patient varied details about their lifestyle as well as to research the patient's medical history in order to get a more comprehensive idea of where that headache may stem from in order to identify the underlying cause(s) and deal with them rather than to treat the symptoms alone.

    In my opinion, clients are much more apt to open up and reveal those underlying causes when using an approach based upon respect and the development of trust. Sure, many of the behavioral issues that I have seen could be resolved with logical solutions that seem rather easy to implement from my perspective. But I'm not trying to help me, am I?

    Make no mistake, using one's own experience from one's own perspective can be very useful in the field of social work because it is important to set a positive example. Somebody who has a tendency towards physical violence and a marked difficulty in their ability to cope with their triggers might be positively affected by my example if they witness my refusal to strike a client who strikes me because I recognize that the person who struck me has lost control and that I refuse to be manipulated when provoked.

    The thing is, it is difficult to replace such an example as witnessed firsthand with verbal examples and to expect the person to fully understand. Though my logic might be sound in a verbal explanation, the opportunity to provide a firsthand example gives the client the ability to empathize with me and to understand exactly how somebody can function in a positive manner and maintain self-control in a situation where they have been unable to do so.

    The ability to think rationally and the ability to utilize logic are definitely assets in this field, but equally important is the necessity to cultivate a trusting relationship that suggests that you and your client are on equal footing. Being able to provide airtight defenses for your stances and to win arguments may highlight a social worker's intelligence, but it can do so at the cost of alienating one's clients. "He thinks he's so smart, but he has no idea what it's like for me."

    Also, if the social worker is focusing primarily upon being the one who is understood it can suggest to the client that their input is not valuable and it can weaken their desire/ability to recognize their own active role in their own recovery and ability to solve their problems, once again resulting in a sense of unequal footing.

    Now, it may very well become necessary to shift the focus eventually. Once a client has told you all that they can contribute or all that they feel comfortable contributing at that point, and you have done your part in making sure to clarify with them any details that you may not have fully understood, then it may be appropriate to share your own experiences and perspectives. If they feel that you have made a genuine attempt to understand them and they have been able to give you the whole picture as they see it, they are far more likely to be open to considering viewpoints from an alternate perspective with lasting results.
     
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  10. just me

    just me GONE

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    Sharing experiences and such is one of my ways of communicating, sort of like storytelling. I am attempting to hear from them in the process something of a similar nature so we can then communicate better. I have often found this to be a barrier breaker, though not always have I gotten a response.

    Satya, I think you enjoy debating. I am not saying that is a negative quality.
    I am assuming you do not think you are always right, but use this as a way of communicating, too. Maybe you like testing your skills against those of others?

    My answer to your question is not this or that, though. I think it important to communicate with each other, as it is the beginning of understanding. I personally would not enjoy having to prove someone wrong all the time, or even trying to.
     
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  11. jlynnr

    jlynnr Community Member

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    Most of the time, when I don't understand someone or they don't understand me, it ends up that we are trying to describe the same concept, but just in different words. And usually my brain tends to be the more flexible of the two - I think it comes from being an INFP, partly. One friend in particular thinks so differently that it's like having to think sideways in order to understand what she's trying to say...but it usually ends up being the same thing as I'm trying to say.

    It took a lot of situations where things would have gone better if I had tried harder to understand her for me to realize that my brain needs to go sideways sometimes...
     
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