Have you ever heard what you wanted to hear, but not what was said?
Last week my daughter, grandchildren and I were told about a family friendly restaurant near Washington D.C. with an outdoor eating area. We immediately thought of our favorite restaurant in San Antonio, El Chaparral, which has great food and a large playground next to many shaded tables.
After a 30-minute drive with five children each boasting she or he would be the first one up the rock wall and down the slide, we arrived.
We followed the host through the restaurant to the outdoor area. Instead of it being as big as half a football field it was smaller than half a basketball court. As promised a medium size tree shaded one of the tables few tables.
Needless to say this was not what we were expecting.
Later we reviewed what happened and realized that there was no reason to have expected a large playground. When we heard there was an outdoor eating area we automatically thought of El Chaparral and stopped listening.
This was a rather amusing example of predicting what the speaker meant, but not every time is humorous and harmless.
Sometimes in our hurry to get to the point and move on, we anticipate what we think the other person is thinking or feeling based on our frame of mind, stop listening and act upon our assumption causing frustration and misunderstandings.
Have you ever had a conversation end: “Never mind. It wasn’t important.” It was important, but because the listener didn’t listen and didn’t empathize with the speaker, she gave up and the opportunity to deepen that relationship was lost.