My sister-in-law and her family own a grandfather clock. Its Westminster chimes sound each quarter hour. The soothing tones echo through the spacious foyer and fill the house.
But without my hearing aid, I can’t hear them.
There are certain frequencies I simply cannot, and do not, hear without the aid of technology.
Before I was equipped with a hearing aid, you would have been hard pressed to convince me chimes were coming from that clock every fifteen minutes.
No matter how well you described them or related your experience of hearing them to me, I would swear you were nuts. Clearly, from my perspective, the only sound coming from the clock was a steady tick, tock, tick, tock.
Which one of us would be “right”?
After all these years I’ve finally started to figure out – that’s the wrong question.
Empathy has never been my strong suit. I have trouble seeing and hearing things through a set of eyes and ears other than my own.
But I’m learning.
I’ve always placed high value on being right. It’s just how I’m wired. After reading Integrity by Henry Cloud (a highly recommended read, by the way), and not hearing the Westminster chimes one night, it dawned on me that I and those around me could benefit from me dialing that down.
As Cloud describes it, “Being right is not [an empathetic person’s] highest value. Understanding and connecting with others is.”
Let me tell you, I’d much rather have my tombstone read “He understood and connected with others” than “He always had to be right”. The former sure is a lot more Christ-like.
So, do you hear what I hear?
“For what you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing: it also depends on what sort of person you are.” – C.S. Lewis, The Magician’s Nephew
“To empathize and validate what someone is experiencing does not mean that you always agree or even think the other person is right. It just means that you see it as valid in that it is really their experience, and true for that person, and you show them that you understand what they are thinking and feeling.” – Dr. Henry Cloud, Integrity