Why does saying “I understand” often kill communication?

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,  James 1:19 New International Version (NIV)

just listen

Why does saying “I understand” often kill communication?
Because we are talking and not listening. It is about us and not the talker. We really don’t understand, and that’s the truth. (p. 120). Saying, “I understand” is often accompanied by an unconscious two-handed pushing away gesture. It suggests to the talker we don’t know how to respond, we are uncomfortable with the topic, and we’d rather they didn’t talk about it. The person with cancer senses this rejection, gets uncomfortable, and may shut down. If the pushing-away hand-movement is new to you, watch for it when someone replies, “I understand,” to emotional information sharing (Petersen, 2007, pp. 120-121).
WOW… isn’t that profound.? Listening without judgment is so important. Communication is not happening when listening with judgment occurs.
What does listening with judgment feel like? We are in our heads thinking up answers to what the person is saying while they are speaking instead of listening to them. Even worse we are visualizing every sin that they have ever committed while they are talking to us. Gut wrenching huh?
Here is another way that we can tell when the person is not listening to us. They begin their next sentence with, Yeah but! Or another sentence by telling you something that you said to them decades, years, months, weeks, or days, ago and reminding you that this is who you were then, so this is who you have to be now. Here is the worse part, when a person uses your our words against us to judge, condemn, and sentence us to emotional or spiritual death – if we allow them to. Whenever we feel that an individual is playing head games with us, that is when we know that they are not listening to us. Studying for my final..this stuff is bringing back all of my training in abnormal psychology, and my masters in EBD that I started way back in the dark ages.
Petersen, J. (2007). Why don’t we listen better? Communicating & connecting in relationships[Kindle Edition]. Retrieved from Amazon.com.

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