- Jan 20
The truth about Elephants
There is a parable about a king who asked several blind men to each touch a different part of an elephant. When they were questioned on the nature of the elephant, each blind man gave an entirely different description as the only right and true description of an elephant.
If you think of our own experiences as ‘touching the elephant’ we create our own ‘truth’ and hold on to it as the only truth. If someone else touched the elephant in a different place then their experience becomes their only truth. This is where we can get into trouble; we speak our truth to each other with the expectation that everyone will see our truth as the only truth. We will not accept anyone else’s truth. On a grand scale, wars have been fought because of this.
It is said that there is actually no general ‘truth’ in the world, only that which we hold true for ourselves. I define our truth as the way we see the world and what it offers us or doesn’t offer us. But what have we got to lose by understanding someone else’s truth? It doesn’t make us wrong or right, it is simply listening to understand the perspective of another person. Who knows, this may allow us to see the world a little differently. By listening to another person’s truth doesn’t mean that we have to agree with or take it as our own, we simply accept that it is another truth. If we took it upon ourselves to develop the skills of listening and curiosity through asking questions to gain understanding, many of our frustrations and conflicts with others would be reduced in our work and personal lives.
Here is a challenge for you – in the coming weeks or months, take the time to understand someone else’s truth by being curious and listening deeply. I mean really listening. I mean really listening to understand someone else’s truth. I mean speaking less and listening more. Your truth is still valid, because it is your truth. You don’t have to accept someone else’s truth as your own, just understand it. The act of listening and coming to an understanding of where someone else is coming from opens up a new world of relationships and opportunities – even in the work place. You may find you are getting a better understanding of what the entire elephant actually looks like. Give it a go and see what happens.