Not surprisingly, we all hear through our own lens that shapes the conversation. Our brains try desperately to hear the things we most want to hear as well as the things we are most afraid to hear. While this is sometimes amusing when applied to the differences in the sexes (especially if it’s about somebody else’s relationship), it’s not remotely a gender based phenomenon.
Lately, we see this potently in politics where the far left, the far right, and whatever the Tea Partiers are make mountains of the opposition’s molehills. Often the actual message is lost in the sea of sound bites and inflammatory opinion.
Perhaps Deborah Tannen’s advice for men and women might be applicable in our national discourse as well. Her essential thesis was that we don’t lack the skills to express ourselves, we lack the skills to listen. We need to hone our ability to hear the message the speaker intended rather than the message our lens was amplifying. Much like in personal relationships, we may find that we have more common ground and shared goals than we think.