I just finished the book The Lost Art of Listening by Michael P. Nichols and while I was not crazy about his rambly writing or therapy-patient-heavy anecdotes, I did find it to be full of truths about the challenges we have in being good listeners.
The core concepts in this book are solid and his activities to try at the end of each chapter are worth looking at to find practical ideas to try to shift your behavior.
The title of this blog post is one of M.Nichols' comments about listening during conflict/debate/disagreement. He talks about how we tend to go back and forth to defend our position, often cutting the other person off. When we are in debate, do you try to win? Do you try to convince the other person to change their mind because of your brilliant forceful reasoning?
M.Nichols suggests that we can first listen and fully hear the person out, even when we don't agree or can't relate. This is more about conveying curiosity, genuine interest in where the other person is coming from, and it is NOT EASY! He describes this as Responsive Listening which requires relinquishing control over the outcome/conversation and staying open and curious. This requires taking a GENUINE INTEREST in the person.
The next time you are in a debate/disagreement, consider trying to ask more open-ended questions to increase your understanding and compassion for the other person's perspective, opinion, and position. The author suggests we even wait until another day to convey OUR position....I'm not sure I would be capable of this, but I have been working on debating from a place of personal passion and conviction, without having the goal of "winning" or convincing the other person to change their mind and the result has been less elevated emotions and more personal connection, even when we vehemently disagree.
Who will you try this with? (Warning: partners, offspring and parents are extra-credit challenging for most of us! I find that casual friends or work colleagues have been where I've had better initial success)
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