“This is important: to get to know people, listen, expand the circle of ideas.”
We all realize the importance of having relationships and the need to have that connection with someone. We may say that a lot of our relationships are friendships but we need to reevaluate our thinking behind this to determine if they are truly friendships or are they merely acquaintances. Once we know this difference we can learn what is most important in turning those acquaintances into true friendships and also how to maintain and deepen those current friendships that we have.
So what is the main difference between having an acquaintance and having a friendship? An acquaintance is someone we know slightly but really do not know who the backstory so to speak as to who the person truly is. We may know them through a mutual friend, a person at our place of work or someone we encounter from time to time on a regular basis. For example there is a cashier that my wife and I see each week at our local grocery store and we exchange pleasantries but that is all. This again is an acquaintance. Now a friendship is when we have that deeper connection with someone where they may know you better than you know yourself, can sense when you are happy or sad and there is certain level of trust and understanding between one another. If you take a moment to think of an example of this in your life I’m sure many people will come to your mind from both the past and the present.
What does it take to turn that acquaintance into a friendship? Better yet, how do we deepen our current friendships in order to grow and develop? Pope Francis says in today’s quote in order to get to know people and expand the circle of ideas is to listen to people. Sounds simple enough right? But like Wesley Snipes says to Woody Harrelson in the movie White Men Can’t Jump, “Are you listening or are you just hearing me?” I’m sure there have been times when we say we are listening to our friends even though our mind is somewhere else and not on the conversation at hand. That is not listening, that is just hearing them.
In order to to become a better listener and truly deepen the connections with our friends we can do several things. Make sure there are no distractions to interfere with you active listening like putting your phone down or keeping your eyes off of the TV and on who is speaking to you. Your body language also indicates to the other person that you are interested in what they are saying. If you are leaning in this shows that level of interest and engagement. And finally we need to listen with empathy and look at things through their perspective and not our own. Its not about us.
What does this quote mean to you and how can you apply today’s message towards developing relationship skills in your own life?