The Art of Listening Well In the Face of Disagreement
Hush, pause, and ask...
Will you tell me your story?
When the disquiet enters your being and your heart beats faster, when you feel the words coming up to violently disagree, to tell your side of the issue, to give a piece of your mind ...
Hush, pause and ask...
Will you tell me your story?
Give your entire being to listening to this other person.
We can’t always understand that person’s situation, but we can empathize with the emotions in a situation we’ve experienced.
Every life is unique and valuable. What can you learn by listening to that point of view?
Instead of putting up blockades when the story you’re hearing makes you uncomfortable, keep your mind open to new ideas and perspectives.
What is it that’s making you uncomfortable?
7 tips for listening when you disagree
Keep your mind open when someone speaks to an issue about which you feel strongly. Ask open-ended questions to understand the deeper reasoning behind why she feels that way.
Listen attentively instead of preparing what you want to say while the other person is talking. We all have a habit of preparing our return statements instead of listening well. It takes practice and massive amounts of self-control to do this well. With practice it’s possible.
Identify the emotions the other person is feeling and empathize with that emotion. When have you felt a similar emotion in your own life?
Watch your body posture. Actions speak louder than words and so does your non-verbal communication. Try not to cross your arms, purse your lips or frown. They are all signs of disagreement.
Pray before you speak. Ask God to give you the words to say in response to this person. A friend once told me to say in my head, “The image of Christ in me greets the image of Christ in you.” It’s pretty hard to be mad when you’re picturing Jesus right in front of you.
Avoid disagreeing immediately. It could lead to an argument or shut down the conversation. Continue to ask for more information before you give a strong opinion.
Respect the other person by choosing to stay quiet. Filling the silence is something most of us do, but if you allow time for the other person to finish her thoughts something profound may come from it.
When we listen and try to understand another person’s point-of-view it’s showing respect for that person’s lived experience. The worldview and perspectives that have been formed have stories and emotions behind them that we need to try to understand.
Your lived experience also is true. When you become uncomfortable over a certain issue it’s necessary to ask yourself why. That discomfort stems from somewhere and perhaps can be resolved with deeper self-awareness.
How do you feel when you are truly heard?
I know I feel loved and accepted for who I am, an imperfect person struggling to figure out how to live life well.
Imagine the domino effect of a world that listens. A society in which people can share their pain without the fear of being demolished by the words of others who disagree.
People would feel a release of the bottled up emotions they are carrying and would have room in their heart to listen to someone else.
Instead of strong divides because of differences, there would be a radical movement of acceptance.
If you would like to go deeper into this topic of listening, I highly recommend the book “The Listening Life” by Adam McHugh or consider joining our lovely group of women in the Grove Society diving deeper into this topic of listening during the month of February.