on listening

The world is incredibly noisy. Social media can be the noisiest of all. No matter the subject, people are shouting their opinions and suggestions and solutions. They feel strongly about whatever their point of view is.

And there are things we should feel strongly about. It may not matter what my favorite movie is or which book you like best, but some things aren’t subjective or inconsequential. Standing up and speaking about these weighty matters is both brave and necessary.

But maybe, just maybe, people might be more willing to hear our thoughts on those important subjects if we did a bit of listening to them first.

Maybe we’d understand the opposing viewpoint a little better, even if we still don’t agree with it.

Maybe we’d have more empathy. Maybe we’d treat those who disagree with us with a little more kindness and compassion.

But all too often, precious little listening occurs amid all the noise.

Why is that? Are we afraid to listen to opposing viewpoints? Afraid they might actually succeed in changing our minds?

Or just too angry that they don’t see it like we do?

Maybe it’s a mixture of both.

A joke I’ve seen making the rounds on Facebook talks about a Jew, a Christian, a Muslim, and sometimes an atheist and/or pagan walking into a bar. They sit, chat, and have a lovely time. Because that can happen when you’re not a jerk.

In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Covey says to first seek to understand then to be understood.

So listening first is more effective, and it makes you a nicer person. Sounds like a win, right?

I think we could all stand to display the courage to sit and listen a bit more often.

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