Intent v Reply: The great case of misunderstandings


art by Maddy Meuller

Alice Yu

An educator, author, businessman and inspirational speaker, Steven R. Covey was born on Oct. 24, 1932 in Salt Lake City, Utah. One of his most popular books was a self-help book named, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, published in 1989. Aimed towards finding success in the business sector, his self-help book was named as one of the 25 Most Influential Business Management Books in the August 2011 edition of Time Magazine and in 1996, Time Magazine named Covey as one of the 25 most influential Americans in 1996. While on a leisure bike ride in April 2012, Covey lost control of his bicycle and received numerous injuries, including cracked ribs, a partially collapsed lung and a head injury. On his fall, his helmet slipped, resulting in the head injury. Covey died of complications from the bike accident later that year on July 16, 2012.
Conflict is inescapable, especially in this day and age. With stimulants embedded in the wide net of social media, acts of humanity are buried under reports of skirmishes, deaths and broken political promises. Splits within our governing body fester and hinders our nation’s progress. Words of frustration and anger are hurled at one another on an almost daily basis, whether it be between my parents or students at odds with each other. While the power of the word may seem strong and far more influential than that of silence, in my point of view, the skill of listening is even more powerful.
In the journalism room where deadlines continue to rule over everyone’s grades, tensions tend to flare and attitudes sometimes become poisonous. Although communication is key to progress and teamwork, vicious attempts laced with anger and frustration destroy any desire for teamwork. I know that when I hear a suggestion, I sometimes view it as a threat to my personality or my work, even if the speaker is actually trying to help me improve whatever I’m working on. Then I make the harmful mistake of hearing the suggestion as an attack and prepare my own verbal punch to throw back at him or her. Doing that, I just missed a chance to understand the intent and meaning behind whatever was said.
By listening with the intent to reply, I cheat others out of the respect they deserve. They’re imparting knowledge on me but because my pride gets in the way, I choose to prove them wrong in order to prove myself right. In no way does that make progress. In realizing this, I made it a goal to actually listen to what others say. I don’t want to try to finish someone else’s sentence (I’ll admit, I still have trouble with that) and I want to pull my barrier down. Many suggestions are not as threatening as they seem and that barrier prevents my conscious state-of-mind from deciding for itself.
On the other side, I’m also trying to condense my words so that they’re easier to understand. I have a habit of rambling which is not the most efficient in a teamwork environment. So, by clearly thinking through what I want to say and trying to condense it to the simplest form, I can hopefully encourage others to listen with the intent to understand.
This great flaw in our humanity — listening to reply rather than to understand — could very well be the root cause of many resolvable conflicts. There is no need to always be right and many times, both parties are wrong and right at the same time. The world that we high-schoolers live in is not black and white anymore and it gets even grayer the more we venture into the world of work. Listening with the intent to understand and not to reply could very well be a train to carries us to progress, all the while emitting positivity.
By Alice Yu
Art by Maddy Mueller