There is much unrest these days. Let me try that again ... There is much unrest. This unrest, for many, has been going on for hundreds of years. For others, the specifics of the unrest are new to them. They are new because it may not have affected them until recently. The unrest may be new to them because they just chose to ignore what was going on in the past, or (in the worst-case scenario) they were a part of the problem, knowingly or not. No matter where you fall on the spectrum of recent events, one thing is absolutely positively clear - we need to listen more.
To listen, you must actively participate.
Listening is not merely not speaking while another does, you must actively engage your ears and shut off your head's voice. We have all done it. We give our opponent a chance to speak, and while they are, instead of genuinely listening, we are devising our retort in our head as they talk. Often not even hearing what they said at all. This is unfair. Unfair to the person speaking and unfair to the listener. No one knows how much information they are missing out on when they are not listening. There may be the most incredible information coming at you. You are busy concocting your response that you have missed it entirely.
Listening is difficult. I cannot remember who initially said the following to me. I've heard it many times since that the first time, so I imagine many have heard it as well. Still, it bears a repeat, "You have two ears and one mouth. You should be listening twice as much as you speak." Though your mouth may not be moving, you still may not be listening.
To listen, you must actively participate. The first step is to not be speaking while the other person is, and the immediate second step is to clear your mind. Clear your mind of what you "think they are going to say," of the preconceived notions you have regarding the subject being discussed, and then step three is to listen. Listen, and when something is said, that is not clear, kindly ask for clarification.
When listening and discussing emotional subjects, we must take even more care to listen and not jumped to our preconceived ideas. When we close our minds off to listening to other's perspectives, we close the door to learning. Somehow, somewhere, we were taught if you change your mind on any given subject, you are somehow a hypocrite. Understand, the definition of a hypocrite is "a person who pretends ..." A hypocrite lives one way in front of people and acts another behind a curtain. Changing your views on a subject is not being a hypocrite; it is called being human. Changing your views means you recognize that you have gained knowledge that allows you to improve your perspective.
Changing your views means you recognize that you have gained knowledge that allows you to improve your perspective.
This is not to say that every discussion is an attempt to change your way of thinking. It is, after all, a discussion, not a monologue. In fact, you may give another information they did not have and, therefore, can change their perspective. We must take the time to listen to each other, not talk over, not yell, and certainly not demand that they listen when you are not working on doing the same.
When we are in a debate, not only is it more challenging to listen, we often want to pull the person to "our side." We tend to throw statistics or data out that we may not have really checked on the validity. This does not add to the discussion and causes more harm. If your reasons for getting into a debate are only to convert someone to "your side" without regard to learning their perspective, you aren't interested in a discussion, debate, or learning. You are just a bully.
It is okay to know your limitations on the knowledge you have of any given subject. Remember, feelings on a matter are only based on, 1. the knowledge you have up to this point in your life and 2. your life experiences up to this point in your life. Did you see that? "Up to this point in your life." This means you are still learning, still growing, still able to collect information, and change how you feel or look at any subject. Even if you do not agree with the information you have received through the discussion, you can still leave the conversation knowing the other person's perspective. As well as knowing you gave them (and hopefully they gave you) the time to be heard.
As always: Love Lots; Smile Often #LLSO