We Hear What We Want to Hear

I thought it was time to have some fun.

The saying, absence makes the heart grow fonder, has comforted me when I was separated from those I love. I wanted to believe the message as it supported my confidence that my tough time would end. I’d be stronger for it.

I was aware of another brief and familiar message. Out of sight, out of mind. I wasn’t wrong to ignore this opposite side of the coin, so to speak. But it didn’t match my confidence in the love I shared with the people I was separated from.

Things would be very different if I were in a shaky relationship. In this case, the message I couldn’t avoid hearing was reinforcing my fears.

I’ve referenced this opposite side of the coin in many areas of my life.

It has helped me add value when it counted.

For instance, in the many job interviews I’ve had over my working career, I kept in mind something I wanted to say or at least get across to the interviewing panel. For example, “I’m a good counsellor.” The opposite of that is “I’m a bad counsellor.” Nobody in an interview will say that, so I believe the opposite about being a good counsellor is equally of little value. It doesn’t provide the interview panel with any credible information.

I’d rate it as having a low weight in persuading the panel to pick me.

This forced me to think of other ways to convey that I was a good counsellor without ever saying those words.

Here is an example of how I could do that.

Suppose the panel asked me how I would handle a client who offered me a gift during a counselling session. In that case, I’d simply reply that I would politely refuse it and explain that professional expectations support no gifts from clients.

Then, I would add that I had a client who had asked if he could refer a friend to me for counselling. That could also be a gift, given that it would provide an income to my business. However, the client entirely initiated it, and the final decision would be left to the friend; I let the client know the friend could call the intake line if that were his choice.

Getting back to the job interview, this example gave evidence of a satisfied client. He was so satisfied, in fact, that he recommended me to a friend. I give this example a high-weight rating to influence the panel. And I never said I was a good counsellor.

One last kick at the can.

The early bird gets the worm is an expression that encourages me to jump out of bed and seize the day, preferably before the rooster crows.

Then I roll over in bed for a few more winks. The second mouse gets the cheese!

Please give this a bit of a think. What pairs of cliches or pearls of wisdom do you know that have an equally brief but opposite message?  How have these played a role in your life? Can you share your contradictory pairs in the comments below?

I’m curious about your thoughts. Please share your bit of a think in the comment section below. It will come to me for approval before posting.

Photo by AI: Create an image of a mouse who will fail to get the cheese from the trap.

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2 thoughts on “We Hear What We Want to Hear

  1. Gail says:

    There are always two sides to everything in life. That’s the way I look at it. And if we agree to agree with that, then it makes sense. We’ll also hear what we want to hear, just like the title of your blog says. People will lean more towards whatever side of the coin fits their belief system. No-one is right or wrong. Both points of view are valid. And they shouldn’t be taken literally. I also think it’s important to understand the historical context of cliches because let’s face it – a lot of them are ancient. They don’t hold the same meaning like they once did. Maybe they’re a dying thing. I don’t know. It seems that people will always need ancient wisdom to help them understand and deal with life.

    Some cliches baffle my mind. Example: I remember my father used to say “a rolling stone gathers no moss.” Even after I understood the meaning behind the cliche (it’s hard for something to grow on something that’s moving) I still questioned it – how did affect peoples’ lives? This one requires a little abstract thinking. Back in ancient times, I can see where this is going. If a person kept moving, it would be harder to find a job, make friends, and find a partner. The message is that if you’re always on the move, you’re not building a foundation for growth. You may pay a price. But what about people who, for whatever reason, have to move from their country to another city due to political, economical or financial reasons? What might “fit” for one doesn’t “fit” for another.

    The proverbial saying “haste makes waste” resonates. I can’t count the number of times when I didn’t slow down to think, plan and act. When I rushed through something I inevitably made mistakes.

    I’ve been hearing the cliche “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.”

    • glenn says:

      I understand your last cliche, but I don’t understand how it accounts for suicides, mental breakdowns etc.

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