CHAPTER 15Listen to understand; not to be understood

We all like to think we're right. None of us likes to think we're wrong. It's a human thing.

Of course, this wouldn't be a problem if we all saw things exactly the same way, but alas, you only have to look at the wars raging across the world, in our houses of government and in our own homes to see that we don't. So when it comes to getting along with the other seven billion human beings that inhabit planet Earth with us, it's inevitable that beliefs, desires and agendas will collide. Whether we work these out through vigorous debate or by waging full-blown war, it all boils down to the willingness of all parties to respect the right of others to hold their own opinion and to try to understand it. Doing this requires what I believe is the most important of all communication tools: listening.


Have you ever told what you thought was a super funny joke that only caused offence? Living in the United States for more than 10 years taught me that the sarcasm Australians use without a second thought can be interpreted as outright insolence by many Americans. That's not because Americans don't have a sense of humour; it's because they have a different style of humour. It's just not as funny as ours! (And yes, that's sarcasm.)

Needless to say, I'm no expert on how to tell jokes so that people will laugh at them. I'm still figuring that out myself — and my kids will ...

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