Listening is not the same as understanding. I might say “The sun is an enormous gaseous flaming ball, burning through the centuries.” If your vocabulary is different than mine, your brain will translate what it can and dump the rest, leaving you with the automatic translation, “The sun is a fire ball.” We come from different lives. Have various experiences. Even in the same age generation, you find opposite perspectives. It takes some effort to truly understand another person.
Here is a good example from one of my favorite shows. (Breaking Bad Spoiler Alert, season 4) Skyler is afraid for Walt’s safety. Walt is afraid to of getting caught by the police. It’s an interesting conundrum.
Skyler White: Walt, please, let’s both of us stop trying to justify this whole thing and admit you’re in danger!
Walter White: Who are you talking to right now? Who is it you think you see? Do you know how much I make a year? I mean, even if I told you, you wouldn’t believe it. Do you know what would happen if I suddenly decided to stop going into work? A business big enough that it could be listed on the NASDAQ goes belly up. Disappears! It ceases to exist without me. No, you clearly don’t know who you’re talking to, so let me clue you in. I am not in danger, Skyler. I am the danger. A guy opens his door and gets shot and you think that of me? No. I am the one who knocks!
Walter White: I am the one who knocks!
Sometimes people misunderstand what I say. It happens. Other times, I’ve often been talking with someone and been too quick with my hearing. Later I’ll look back on the conversation and understand what the person truly meant. It’s a moment of humility. I’ve tried to develop the habit of not forming a hasty opinion, waiting for a more true picture. Sometimes putting information on my mental shelf for a bit can help. I may not agree with your opinion, but I want to understand.