The importance of understanding

In this pit stop of connection, your approach to connection with others is crucial if you want to fully liberate your creativity.

With a greater number of connections, you have more opportunities to act on your creativity, collaborate and share your work with the world. With a deeper strength of connection, you have the improved ability to imagine better ideas as you become inspired by others you know – and inspire them in return. Two heads are better than one, particularly when they are on the same wavelength.

Rather wonderfully, there is something very simple in the process of learning how to connect more meaningfully with others. It requires some un-learning and, like many of the pit stops on the liberating path, a little leap of faith.

There are hundreds, probably thousands of techniques, you can learn about and adopt to make you better at connecting with others. Some of those which I encourage and share with my clients include the non-violent communication mindset and empathic listening. But the phrase which I believe most aptly summarises an effective and productive approach to connecting with others comes from Stephen Covey:

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

Much of what we do in the world, in our creative work and in organisations is about being understood. We tell potential customers about our product, we send business updates with our team, we talk to partners about our feelings, we share our opinions with strangers on the internet.

How frequently do we seek to understand first, rather than be understood? And if we did seek to understand more frequently, how much more connected might our world and workplaces be?

This is why the connection to our self, our true self, is essential in laying the foundations for excellent connection to others. Because if we understand ourselves, we step back from insisting others must understand us; we stop pushing them to the do the work we need to do for ourselves.

This gives us the space to understand them, making for better, stronger, more meaningful connections, which in turn present us with more opportunities to be creative and act on our creativity. And this is where we need to get to if we’re going to visit the next pit stops on the liberating path – compassion and communication.

This approach is beautifully simple. It’s not easy to do all the time. It’s still worth trying to do as often as possible: to pause, and ask yourself “How can I understand this person better?”.

By Eleanor Snare

Eleanor Snare is a creativity consultant, art school educator, writer and speaker. Their mission is to help liberate the hidden artist within individuals and organisations so they can create more meaningful, imaginative and profitable work.

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