Don’t Crap on My Perspective: What This is Us Taught Us About Listening

Last night’s episode of NBC’s hit show, This is Us, made me feel all the feels.

After an emotional mid-season finale that ended with Kevin in rehab, we were all encouraged by the strong show of support by the family, going to visit him after his first month away.

Randall was a show of strength, saying over and over that he was going to support the brother who had been there to support him. But then, they waltzed into the room with the counselor and things got icky.

Kevin started bringing up problems from his childhood that hurt deeply. He said they were a family of addicts and had generations of alcoholism that contributed to his addictions. And his family, the beautiful family we see each week, he said they made him feel like a fifth wheel his entire life.

Things quickly deteriorated from a supportive family to a yelling match that ended with half of the family walking out of the therapy session.

But something beautiful happened. They came back together and Randall, despite being deeply hurt by his brother’s words, acknowledged that Kevin might have a different perspective and that he needed to listen to that perspective.

Friends, we need to listen to each other. Even when, perhaps especially when, we think someone is in the wrong.

We can become so preoccupied with correcting a wrong opinion, with preparing our next zinger, that we fail even to take time to understand what someone else is saying.

Problems cannot be addressed if we don’t dig them up from their root. If we ignore the deeper issues, if we don’t take time to understand what someone is feeling, we will keep coming back to the relationship to find weeds popping up, destroying the beautiful thing we want to grow.

Kevin was hurting and Randall saw that. I have no doubt that there will be future episodes where, at a more appropriate time, Randall addresses his perspective on what Kevin said in therapy. But in this episode, he realized that it wasn’t the time or the place. He realized that he needed to stop, put his perspective aside, and step into Kevin’s shoes.

Even when we know someone is wrong, it is to our benefit to listen to them.

“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” – James 1:19, ESV

We need to be quick to listen. It’s how we gain a truer understanding of the situation. We only know the perspective that we have. Our perspective may be correct but it might not show the entire situation. By listening to the perspective of another, we can gain a fuller, truer image of what is happening.

Their shortcomings and misconceptions cannot be addressed until we see the full picture they are trying to paint. Their perspective will illuminate our blind spots and then, when it’s our turn, we can illuminate theirs.

I am quick to speak when I think someone is wrong. But last night, I was reminded afresh that this does not benefit me nor the person I am speaking to. I need to stop, acknowledge their hurt and opinion, and see their side before, and if, I decide to share mine.

So thank you, This is Us, for reminding me not to, as Randall so eloquently put it, crap on another’s perspective. Thank you for reminding us that there is a time to speak but that time comes after the time to listen and support one another.

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  1. YES!! So good! I remember thinking some similar thoughts when Randal joined them on the bench. What stood out to me was how the fight and confrontation had to happen for them to get to the point of being open to what Kevin had to say. Love this, Bailey!

  2. This is actually something I think about often: perspectives and how they differ. I took a creative nonfiction writing class when I was in college and we talked about how one persons perspective of an event can differ from someone else’s perspective and how that’s prevalent in siblings. It’s cool to see that the show is focusing on that and also, as you said, on listening. There is a time and a place to share a differing perspective so that both people can see where the other is coming from, but there’s also a time and a place to listen.

  3. Sometimes this show makes me crazy as if the writers never make a solid stand. This episode however really got me thinking. Isn’t that the point? Don’t be in such a hurry to jump on your own bandwagon Nancy and abduct others along the way. Take time to listen, really listen, to another perspective. I love the gentle reminder that we all can’t be right 100% of the time at the same time!

  4. I always always always hear praise for this show. But I haven’t watched it yet. But regardless, everything you’ve said here is true. I have a political science degree (trying times for us political enthusiasts these days) and for some reason I just kept relating what you were saying to listening to people across the political aisle from us.

  5. So good! And that really was a great episode. It really is so true. We may not understand ones perspective, bt they obviously feel that way for a reason and we should respect that.