Honoring is a key ingredient to successful communication, a pivotal part of any successful relationship. When we honor someone, it means we honor their experience. That means our attention is on what they are saying and how they are feeling as opposed to how we feel about what they are experiencing, or how we think they should be feeling, or how we expect them to feel, or want them to feel.
Do you see? Honoring means being present with another person’s experience for their sake, not ours. When we honor someone, it doesn’t mean we agree with them. It means we respect their right to their own internal process.
How? We listen. We pause. We acknowledge what we hear them say.
We don’t correct them. We don’t debate, or negate, or dispute what they say. We don’t judge them, or blame them, or fault them, or react in any unfavorable way. Why not? Because their experience is their experience. When we honor someone, we honor whatever it is she or he is going through.
Whenever someone expresses how they feel, it is an opportunity for two people to draw closer and achieve greater intimacy. Honoring allows us to see life through another person’s eyes. It enhances our understanding of that individual and helps us get to know them better. Plus, it demonstrates that we care.
WHEN SOMEONE’S EXPERIENCE DIFFER FROM OURS
It’s common for someone’s experience to differ from ours. It doesn’t mean they are wrong. It means they are filtering life through their channels of perception, just as we are filtering life through ours.
For example, say someone relates their experience to you and it is different from your own. Right then, you have a choice. You can honor them. You can say, ‘I acknowledge what I hear you say and I honor your experience.” This response demonstrates your support. Or, you can react to what they say. You can get frustrated, irritated, or angry. You can try to correct them; disagree or debate them; taunt or judge them; fault or negate them. That is the opposite of honoring; it’s dishonoring. A reaction like that is an attempt to invalidate someone and demonstrates your lack of support.
IS IT ABOUT YOU OR THEM?
When we honor someone’s experience, our attention is on supporting them. When we dishonor someone’s experience by reacting to what they say, it is all about us and our personal judgment of what they are experiencing.
Honoring draws two people closer together, dishonoring puts distance between them. Honoring strengthens a relationship. Dishonoring weakens or damages it. And if it has happened before, it can even sever the relationship.
In an ideal scenario, both parties are invested in seeing their relationship grow stronger. Honoring allows us to gain insight into what the other person is experiencing. With this valuable information, we can make choices that lead to greater harmonics.
Honoring is not only about how we behave towards others. It is also about how we treat ourselves. Some of us are still learning how to honor ourselves, how to listen within and acknowledge our experience. The more we cultivate this essential process, the more we’ll find judgment taking a back seat to acceptance. That’s a step towards freedom, because judgment is binding and acceptance is liberating.
Note: The text on this page is from a forthcoming book.