• Dr Ashutosh Srivastava

Thoughts behind Words

Conversations between people occur ordinarily on a regular basis. Usually we tend to take what people say at face value. Yet it might be more interesting and useful to look behind the words that are spoken and delve into the mind of the individual speaking.

We usually speak about things that matter to us, what we value or our concerns at the moment. And when different people are listening to us, individuals will respond to an element of our story that has an impact on them. For instance, if you state that you just purchased a new shirt, one person might react by asking the brand while another will ask how much it was. This immediately reveals what matters to the individuals listening to you.

Let's consider other examples. When you invite people to a social event, one might respond by being concerned with the attire to wear, while someone else might ask who will be there. Again we instantly see what different people are usually concerned about.

An individual's values are revealed by how he reacts to the story you are telling. If you share with someone that you just broke up with your partner, how does the person respond? Does he look for fault in your former partner, or does he try to blame you? Or will he sit silently as he empathizes with you? Will the person encourage you to fix the relationship or will he tell you to find someone else? The manner by which he reacts will reveal how he thinks and perhaps what he has done or will do in a similar situation.

We get a clearer picture of the people we speak with not just by listening to their words but also by attempting to understand the thoughts behind them. Understanding people is not that difficult once you master this skill. It is by listening to both the spoken and unspoken thoughts that we learn to read the people around us.

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