I’ve been reading a remarkable book about how to listen and speak to young people. One suggestion, from a chapter on interacting with children with sensory sensitivity, is to “join the child in their world.”
This strikes me as an exercise that is universally productive for our relationships. Each of us has an inner world, rich and conflicted, formed by the narratives we rehearse. Failing to attend to this “world” of another, our communication can fall flat. Ships pass in the night.
The choice to join a neighbor in their inner world is always available to us. When we opt for this generous way, the other feels affirmed and known. Our insight of how to encounter them is refined. The relationship is strengthened. We are able to love more skillfully.