In his song "Imagine", John Lennon encourages us to imagine what the world would look like if there were no countries … nothing to kill or die for, or no religion, and people would live in peace… You may say he is a dreamer, but clearly, he is not the only one?! .
So imagine…imagine that we talk to each other with respect and non-judgement as if we arrived to a new country, which we have known nothing about - we know nothing about its people and its culture, they have done no wrong by us. They may have done wrong by others or even be in a war of their own, but with us they have been fair and respectful. And so we are curious and respectful towards them. We are open and listen to hear what they actually say.
Active listening is directly related to curiosity and that links to our interests. Understand your interests and find out what common ground you have with others. You will be amazed how much you can find.
And what if they have done wrong by us? When does it affect us to the point that we stop hearing? It affects us when our buttons are pushed, when they say or do things, which are unacceptable to us. Why? Because what they say takes us back to the place where we were before, when we experienced unfairness, betrayal, when we were hurt. It is so hard to recognise that, what another person says now may have very little (or nothing) to do with what happened to us in the past. They may mean different things, and still, to us it’s hurtful. What can we do? We can tell them how we would like them to communicate with us. And if it doesn’t work, we may have to agree to disagree and bear the consequences of it.
What the cause of ineffective communication seems to be is, not as much ineffective listening, but the inability of the two people to bond and listen to each other. Sadly and way too often, we listen to respond instead of listening to understand. And even if one person tries to understand, often the other takes advantage and wants to win the argument.
We often say that we can only take the responsibility for our own actions and can’t really be responsible for how other people react or behave. Could conflicts, wars or arguments in professional or personal contexts be avoided if we all learnt to listen to understand and not just listen to respond? And what’s the challenge with that? The challenge to have both people listening to understand is that the stronger person, who is more determined, passionate perhaps to present their viewpoint in order to win, is the one who will not listen.
How to communicate so that both people hear each other? Continue reading...