Over the weekend I found myself in a debate online where I had shared my viewpoint and then others were welcome to share their viewpoints. There was a variety of views as everyone in the conversation as coming from a different perspective, which is in my mind the best kind of conversation, one where we can throw out how we see the world and build more understanding.
When the conversations started to get a little heated, there were two comments where the other party stated that I wasn’t listening. I sat with this for a few moments because although I mess it up often, I do pride myself on my ability to listen openly. In truth it’s part of the reason I became a therapist and then later a coach because I enjoy actively listening.
So I checked myself. I saw one instance where I had listened but hadn’t acknowledge (since we are online) that I indeed was listening. However, I quickly discovered that we often say someone isn’t listening when the truth is they simply aren’t agreeing and changing their minds. These are two different things!
If we constantly changed our views just because we listened to another then we would be in grave danger. That’s someone that doesn’t know themselves, their values, their minds, and their hearts. When we listen we need to be able to set aside our views and try to take the perspective of another but at the same time, if it is to shift our own view it must get processed through our inner world and experiences.
We have many controversial topics that are up for grabs right now and they are made more controversial because there is a lack of trying to listen with an open mind. There is a lot of listening to just respond happening which is hearing and not true listening.
But in a world that has a lot of emotion drawing topics it is more imperative than ever that we take a step back and ask ourselves what our expectations are with sharing.
Are we wanting to be heard and witnessed? Well if thats the case then it doesn’t really matter if you change another persons perspective because the intent is just to be seen and known at a deeper level. To get to share your perspective which we all need to do from time to time.
Or are we wanting to change others minds? Well with this one we can have people listening very deeply to us but we must realize that we don’t want to truly be listened too. Instead we have an agenda to make everyone else think like us. This is going to inevitably create drama and trauma because others are as equally allowed to their different beliefs.
Though that doesn’t mean they aren’t listening and wanting to understand.
A few months back I remember talking to someone about the current abortion bans being enacted all over the United States. I am ultimately pro-choice and she was ultimately pro-life. While it would have been easy to yell and scream at each other we both took time to share where our perspectives were coming from about the issue.
While she did not turn me pro-life, our conversation allowed me to have a greater understanding for why she personally struggled with the idea of abortion. She had a very personal connection to it and so was coming from that space. I was coming from a very different space of just finding out I was pregnant and worried about my own personal life if something went awry. We left the conversation with the exact same stances but we also could understand the others perspective.
Listening and understanding and not necessarily demanding the other change and begin thinking like us.
I share this because it is often that my clients will come to be saying their partner isn’t listening to them. Sometimes with some inquiring that is exactly what is happening. They are being shut down before getting to be heard, though there are other times when they are wanting their partner to simply change their minds.
In all my years of therapy, coaching, trainings, and just being a human being messing this whole thing up too 🙂 We are more likely to change opinions when we aren’t forcing our views on others and instead offering a different perspective in which for things to be viewed.
Let’s all, self included, try listening a little deeper this week and check what our expectations are for sharing a different perspective. Are we open to hearing that same opposite perspective?
Reawaken Your Life!