Developing Understanding

Understanding is the bedrock of empathy. There’s no doubt that empathetic people are attractive to others – after all, we all long to feel connected and supported. However, before you can be empathetic, you have to understand. Empathy is the emotional manifestation of understanding.

Understanding - A Characteristic of Attractiveness

Understanding has a host of gifts to offer beyond just building empathy, of course. When you understand the circumstances surrounding the composition of a particular piece of music – who wrote it, when, and why – that context colors and improves your performance of the piece. Suddenly, the music is no longer just notes on a page, but a communication from one human being to another. Understanding is the baseline of connection.

Tolerance vs. Understanding

A dictionary definition of understanding is sympathetic awareness or tolerance, but perhaps a better definition would be sympathetic awareness beyond tolerance.

Tolerance has become quite the buzzword, and over time it’s become a bit corrupted. To tolerate something now implies that you are putting up with it, despite not liking it very much. There’s no curiosity there, simply a willful disregard of disgust.

Understanding on the other hand, requires curiosity. And curiosity often requires courage. No wonder people shy away from it. Asking why people believe or behave or create as they do opens you up to discovering answers that may make you uncomfortable.

The Courageousness of Living

If you want to develop understanding, appreciating courage is a great place to start. Everywhere you look, you see courage whether you recognize it as such or not. It takes courage to just show up for life. Following through, making a million small decisions a day, all of that requires courage. Life is not for the faint of heart.

Pursuing a life in classical music requires an additional level of courage. You’re constantly putting yourself out there, facing rejection, facing failure. And the musicians around you are doing the same thing. Everyday. You may not know exactly what is going on in someone else’s life, but there’s one thing you can understand – they made the decision to get out of bed this morning and get on with it, and that deserves some respect.

Understanding Your Role

Sympathetic awareness begins with understanding the big why. Why is that person doing what they are doing? Why are we here, performing this piece? Once you understand the purpose, you can determine what your role in the whole is. Are you the leader? The giver? The receiver?

Once you understand your part you can demonstrate that understanding to the people around you.

This is part of our series on the characteristics of attractive people. If you would like to hear the live discussion about this characteristic, head on over to now.

If you are ready to learn more about how to build a profitable, fulfilling career as a performing classical musician, check out Concert University, and the free webinar that outlines 5 strategies for success.