Proverbial Friday – Global Wisdoms

I find there to be profound wisdom in proverbs, sayings and quotes and I marvel at the way they are so succinct in communicating messages to the reader. Mostly anonymous, they come to us from past generations and from across cultures. They speak of the experiences of lives lived and lessons learned. Quotes, like proverbs, make us think more deeply about something.

Each Friday, I post a Proverb or Saying and a Quote that I find thought-provoking.

I hope you will too.

graffitiart (Small)

A guilty conscience is a hidden enemy

– Indian proverb


Continuing on with the theme of listening again this week, is Ralph Nichols’ quote:

“The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood.

The best way to understand people is to listen to them.”

– Ralph Nichols

Dr. Ralph Nichols was a major force in our understanding of the complexities of listening behavior and research in the “field of listening.” Do you think you are a good listener?

You will find ten questions here to see whether you are really listening or not.

One of those questions is:

Are you listening to understand, rather than listening to respond?

In a world of increasing conflicts, how often do you, in your own small corner of the world, really listen and value a speaker, their experience, the conversation or the message they are trying to convey?

Join in the discussion by leaving a comment here under.


Now posting on Fridays

Something to Ponder About



21 thoughts on “Proverbial Friday – Global Wisdoms”

  1. I get the wisdom in the Indian proverb, but I try not to do things that make me feel guilty. As for listening to respond or to understand—it depends on whether a child is asking ‘are we there yet?’ or a friend is sharing inner thoughts, concerns, joys and such. If you listen to understand, you can often ‘hear’ between the lines.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can empathize with the intentioned ignoring of a whiny child, however I was never good at ignoring any child for any length of time, as I remember distinctly those feelings of invisibility,from my own childhood when my parents often ignored me. So, I had to use other strategies! Though there are times when ignoring is very useful when dealing with adolescents. Each situation is different and must be judged accordingly so that one doesn’t appear rude or lacking in empathy.
      To your second point, I wonder if we avoid thinking about things that make us feel guilty, Peggy, do we ever fully process them? I find that I actually have to sift through those feelings of guilt in my head lest they fester, with the result that I get stuck, in that stage, and never fully reach the stage of acceptance. Having said that, it is not healthy to dwell for too long in the mire of guilt because it can be so self destructive.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. The last time I was guilty of feeling really guilty was when I worked ridiculous hours and neglected the whole family. So I quit and went freelance. Worked mostly from home and to hours that suited me. That was 20 years ago.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I was commenting with someone recently, (here?) about the ability to listen. I actually bought some cards to remind me to be a more active listener and pay more attention to how I listen. I’m not as good at it as I want to be. Most of us I think are better at talking than listening and for myself, I really want that to change. Not as easy as it seems.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You mentioned the cards to me, Marlene. I decided to continue with the theme of ‘listening’ again this week.
      You are absolutely correct. It isn’t easy to break old habits and listening habits are no different. The only way I can change a bad habit is to try to break it down into small parts first and change them slowly and incrementally. Say trying to 100% listen for understanding for the next ten minutes or half hour on the first day, then progress to mornings and so on, if successful. Otherwise, it is simply too hard to overcome the inbuilt programming in existence in my head.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You are so right about that. It’s a lesson I have been working on for the last few years. Asking more questions of the person I’m conversing with and really hearing what they say. It’s like a detective looking for clues. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Having a guilty conscience might knaw at some, but not others. Or perhaps they’ve shut out their conscience?
    Listening. Ah yes. All too often we selectively listen… perhaps because of bias, pre-conceived attitudes etc. How can we remove that and listen objectively? Will we ever?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Not too sure what to make of the first quote. Perhaps what it means is that there is always a side to us that society won’t agree with, or a side that seeks to put our own selfish interests first. In a way, this sort of makes me think that some of us can be much more destructive than we think.

    The Ralph Nichols quote is an interesting one, and interesting to read that he breaks down the different levels of listening. Some listen because they really want to understand and help someone, others might just want to listen to figure out how to impress the other person, and maybe some listen just to be polite. I think listening to understand is something that is challenging. When you’re trying to understand someone, there’s the need to be open-minded and it’s worthwhile remembering that person who is talking is coming from a certain perspective and background – and we may come from totally different backgrounds and perspectives.

    Which then begs the question: can we truly understand someone else? Do we need to have had similar backgrounds in order to truly understand someone? If we can’t truly understand someone, is there a point of listening? I would say yes because that fosters respect, builds bonds and connections and help us get along. Also at the day it’s human nature to feel wanted, and by listening, we can make someone feel wanted and like they belong.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I will take your last point first, Mabel. Listening well does make the speaker feel a sense of belonging and of being wanted, because if we do listen fully to others, it not only values them as a person with a valid opinion and valid comments, but also conveys empathy for the speaker and their circumstances. I see you concur with this, as you suggest good listening promotes bonding, collaborative respect and rapport. It is pretty hard to feel a bond with someone who disagrees vehemently or doesn’t pay attention to other people’s opinion, feelings or conversation.
      Then to your question can we truly understand someone else? Perhaps the answer is yes, but it is far more uncommon than people might think . Some older couples develop a very strong bond after many years of partnership and can even second guess what the other will do, say or think. Twins sometimes also have this bond but this is very rare between friends or acquaintances. The reason might be a number of factors not the least of which is, as you alluded, differing cultures and backgrounds and also, personalities. Still, even good listening doesn’t always completely equate to understanding. It might be possible to give one’s full attention in listening, for example, to someone who mourns their pet cat (which has just died) and even empathize with their sadness and sorrow, understanding how they might feel, whilst still harbouring an intense dislike of cats themselves. Or a refugee from a civil war that has certain political or religious beliefs contrary to our own yet we can still support them, and listen to their needs, assisting them if they want us to do so. We need to remain open minded and listen for understanding in order to empathize with the people who might be or have been, in extraordinarily difficult situations. However, we don’t have to necessarily agree, personally, with whatever platform the speaker advocates. I guess this is listening and empathizing with a person’s feelings and understanding as well as what may have led them to the action. And all of this is dependent on what the other is person tells us. Some of us keep things to ourselves and it takes an adept listener to detect the underlying messages.
      Finally I like your take on the proverb. I think guilt can be incredibly destructive to a person and to relationships if it is not curtailed appropriately. Some criminals appear to lack a conscience but might feel remorseful when they are closer to death or in a similar situation as their victims were. If someone has harmed, neglected or betrayed another deliberately, it might create a sense of guilt. The guilt eats away at the person and they are filled with regret and troubled thoughts. This could be likened to a hidden enemy. Not obvious until it it is too late.


      1. True that it is hard to connect with someone who keeps trying to shout you down or insist their view is correct. But sometimes things just get said in the heat of the moment and misinterpretated.

        It is a unusual, special thing to truly [understand] someone else. It can happen over time or maybe it can even take less time if you have in-depth conversations with someone over a short period of time. Helping is different from understanding, but I think there is always some way we can help. Perhaps being open-minded is also about knowing when to say our opinions or sharing our opinions at the right time without offending the other person – which ties into what you say, what the other person tells us.

        We are all capable of changing no matter how resistant we might be to it. Like understanding, maybe this takes time and it is something that can be learnt. It might be nagging to live with guilt and it would be like something bothering you all the time. Maybe when it gets too much, we force ourselves to change for the better.

        Like like these two quotes. Maybe we can include them in our book.


        1. I was thinking similar things about these listening quotes. They would make excellent additions to our book collection.

          I do like the spin you have on ‘change,’ especially when you say that we are all capable of it, no matter how resistant we are. I often hear people talk about how their partner/friend/family member is not going to, nor never will, change. And perhaps that is true, they never will. The ‘problem’ trait is passed off as a permanent flaw, that one must be walk away from. However, change is possible in everyone, it just depends on how motivated they are to change, if they want to change at all, as well as the incentive/s for change and whether the determination exists to make it permanent. It is so easy to change for a short while, until everything in life stabilizes and then, what often happens, is the old habits start to creep back in one by one when we are ‘not looking.’
          I am reminded of two other sayings as I ponder my comment back to you. Firstly, a saying that I have surely said at some earlier juncture: The easiest way to change another person, is to change yourself. Changing one’s own attitude or ways, can sometimes have immeasurable effects in another person, so this is worth remembering. Secondly, when we feel that the other person won’t change at all, self-pity, resentment and bitterness towards them can creep into our thoughts.
          “It is in those instances I have found these words [source: unknown] helpful: Life is not about feeling sorry for yourself,it is about forgiveness and acceptance, and looking forward to doing everything you can to make yourself stronger and better in the long run.”
          What do you make of them, Mabel?


          1. Some people will never change, and that is something I agree with you. We might encourage them to see things differently but sometimes you just can’t change someone’s beliefs no matter how motivated the may be. In that sense, you might not see that person as flawed but someone who is has the strength to stick to their beliefs and what they stand for.

            I like the other two sayings you came up with. Maybe worth putting them in the book too (if we can find who said those words), or maybe even putting them in one of your future blogposts. When we change and become better versions of ourselves, we might inspire others to do the same. Sometimes we have to ask ourselves why do want the other person to change. Maybe we want them to change because they have an impact on our lives, like they are family or friend. Maybe we want them to change because we’d rather be hanging out with another personality – and if that’s the case we have to ask ourselves why are we sticking around.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. We can certainly add those sayings to the book. I will attempt to find out the source of the one relating to life, whilst the one relating to change, is something I have heard for many years. I am not sure if I can find the original source.
              To your point about personality, the dilemma of deciding on the rationale for change in others is one I suppose that many couples who are not getting along might struggle with. Is it for selfish reasons that we want them to change, or because the relationship is breaking down and incompatibility the fundamental issue?
              It is a moot point as to whether a person’s resistance to change is due to determination, resolve or plain old stubbornness at resisting a different approach. I do want to clarify what I meant by the ‘personality flaw.’I do NOT think the person themselves is flawed, merely the behaviour exhibited that is causing conflict. Flawed is even too harsh a word and I should perhaps have used individual personality trait instead, as it is that particular behavioral trait that might cause conflict with another, or contribute to an undesirable outcomes.
              However, it is not just difficult to change your so called Flaws. Who is the person initiating the change? Changing yourself might mean changing one’s attitude, because to change fundamental aspects of one’s personality at the behest of another person is disrespectful to yourself as Nicole Olivier states: “The thought of manipulating the person you’re becoming in order to appeal to another person, seems arbitrary and cheap, and it’s a shame when the people fall victim to this habit. Some people are a shell of who they used to be, and all for what? The love of somebody who didn’t take them as is? Occasionally, a glimpse of who they were shines through, like the sun on a black cloudy day, only to be consumed seconds later by the gray mass that is this abstract character they have to play. It’s sad, really.”
              Not only is it sad but it is submissive and inevitably leads to deep happiness and inner resentment.

              Do you know people who have transformed their character to please someone else? If so, how did that work out for them?


            2. I think you are right in that flawed is quite a harsh word to use. What is flawed and wrong to someone might not be the case to another person. Individual trait sounds like the best phrase to use, agreed. It is an interesting you put to at the end and a very open-ended one too. This is coming from a cultural perspective. Time and time again in South-East Asia I’ve seen locals of Asian descent (say shopkeers) treat tourists of Western background with superior attitude – that is there is preferential treatment to the former (western presence can be esteemed in some parts of Asia). In a way, you can feel submissive undertones here but not necessarily resentment.
              Sometimes maybe some of us change our behaviour to please someone else because by pleasing someone else, that makes us happy.

              Liked by 1 person

            3. I am not sure I like the shopkeeper’s behavior you are referring to Mabel, as it feels completely artificial, false and two faced and it disrespects their own personal self. But then I do feel dogmatic about equality. Why should one customer be treated preferentially over another? Every customer deserves the same treatment irrespective of background or ethnicity. But then I read your final sentence and I see there is potentially a situation where this might just be justified. And again we come back to that saying, “to make others happy is the only true happiness.”

              Liked by 1 person

  5. Listening is such an under-rated skill. And you’re right: most people are formulating an answer rather than listening fully to what is being said. We all do it. I had to train myself to listen and not simply hear. I still suffer relapses. 🙂 There are under-texts or threads of unspoken dialogue which might be missed if one is not really listening fully and completely. I guess that’s why my preferred communication is a written one – no interruptions and time to ponder what one is ‘hearing’ in the text. Thanks for a great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Robyn!
      I can see that you also understand that non verbal cues and under-texts are a big part of communication. I fall off the ‘listening wagon’ many times too, and written communication, like blogging or letter writing gives us much more time to reflect upon the words and respond in a way that addresses all the points of what the speaker in saying and we are using different parts of our brain to respond. Nevertheless, practice makes perfect, although who is perfect in this sense, anyway?

      Liked by 1 person

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