News flash: One of the biggest challenges of our times is the speed of communication. Normal (non-speedy, in-person) communication is a give and take between you and the person you’re with. If you’re in a group, the conversation might bounce around the room among five or six people. You speak, the other person listens and responds (or several people do). You listen and respond. They listen and respond. This is a conversation.
What happens online is not a conversation, and, by online, I mean not only the large social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and others, but I mean texting, direct-messaging, commenting, even emailing.
If you really want to communicate, here’s my suggestion: listen.
Do you want to understand someone’s point of view? Listen to them speak. Do you want to learn what motivates someone whose opinion is different from yours? Listen to what they say. Do you really want to learn something? Listen to their words. Listen – and stop listening to the voice in your head that says, “But, no!! That’s wrong! That’s not the way it really is; let me explain it to you!” Don’t do that. Just listen to THEM. Listen.
Do not try to convince them of your position. In fact, don’t even talk about it. Just listen. Try hard to hear what they are saying, what they believe, what enflames their passion. Don’t even listen to your own inner voice that is screaming in your mind. Just be with what they are saying for a while, patiently.
I am not suggesting that you should change your mind. I am suggesting – strongly – that you should listen to people you disagree with. You do NOT have to change your mind. But you do have to LISTEN. Deeply. Patiently. Without censoring, without what-about-ing, without rejecting.
Then go away. Allow their words to settle, connect, relax into what is. Into what is your own opinion, your own truth, your own reality. And, now you are prepared to present yourself cogently, thoughtfully and, perhaps, compassionately.
That’s all. That’s it.
Sound hard? Sound like a waste of time? Sound like capitulation?
Go back. Re-read what you just read and turn it around: What if someone else read this and listened to you?
I repeat. You want to improve communication? Listen.
Peace and love to you in the week ahead.