top of page

Understand to be Understood: The Power of Listening and Empathy in Communication


Christopher E. Maynard


In a world where communication is key, understanding the perspectives of others has become increasingly important. It is not enough to simply speak our minds and expect others to agree or understand us without effort. In fact, if we truly want to be understood, we must first seek to understand others. This concept is known as "Understand to be Understood" and it is essential for building strong relationships, resolving conflicts, and fostering a culture of empathy and compassion.

What is "Understand to be Understood"?

"Understand to be Understood" is a simple but powerful concept that emphasizes the importance of listening and empathizing with others in order to better communicate and be understood ourselves. It requires us to put ourselves in the shoes of others and to try to understand their perspectives, experiences, and feelings before sharing our own. By doing so, we can build trust, respect, and a deeper understanding of each other's needs and values.

Why is "Understand to be Understood" important?

In today's fast-paced and interconnected world, misunderstandings and conflicts can arise quickly and easily. With social media, email, and other forms of digital communication, we can easily misinterpret messages, assume the worst about others, and become defensive or reactive. However, by taking the time to understand others and their perspectives, we can avoid these misunderstandings and build stronger, more positive relationships.

"Understand to be Understood" is also important because it promotes empathy and compassion. When we take the time to listen to others and understand their experiences, we can better connect with them on an emotional level. This can help us to be more supportive and caring, and to create a culture of inclusivity and respect.

How can we practice "Understand to be Understood"?

Practicing "Understand to be Understood" requires a willingness to listen, learn, and empathize with others. Here are some tips for how to put this concept into action:

  1. Listen actively: When someone is speaking, give them your full attention. Don't interrupt or start formulating your response before they are finished.

  2. Ask questions: If you are unsure about something, ask questions to clarify. This shows that you are interested in understanding their perspective.

  3. Show empathy: Try to understand the other person's feelings and experiences. Put yourself in their shoes and imagine how you would feel in their situation.

  4. Validate their feelings: Let the other person know that you understand and validate their feelings, even if you don't agree with their perspective.

  5. Express your own thoughts and feelings: Once you have understood the other person's perspective, express your own thoughts and feelings in a respectful and empathetic way.


"Understand to be Understood" is a powerful concept that can help us to build stronger, more positive relationships with others. By taking the time to listen, learn, and empathize with others, we can avoid misunderstandings, promote empathy and compassion, and create a culture of inclusivity and respect. So the next time you find yourself in a difficult conversation or conflict, remember to take a step back, listen actively, and seek to understand the other person's perspective. It might just be the key to unlocking a deeper understanding and a more positive outcome.

bottom of page