Difficult conversations. We avoid them like the plague. Rarely does the avoidance approach ever serve us well. So how can we turn difficult conversations into an opportunity rather than a burden?
Current trends in politics, business, religion, etc would have us believe that we must subscribe to one truth and one truth only – our own. A deviation would compromise our entire foundation.
A teacher of mine once told me that we rarely listen to those with a point of view that conflicts with ours since we may then have to change our own point of view. Instead of listening with intent, we hear just enough to build a compelling rebuttal.
About two weeks ago, someone who I was once very close with asked to meetup. This person had unexpectedly disappeared from my life, abandoned the relationship in my eyes.
When we sat down, this person began to tell me how angry they were with me about something they thought I had caused indirectly. I was angry. Upset and embarrassed. Here I was thinking that their intention was to offer me an apology for ditching the friendship!
Instead of erupting in frustration, I heard them out. After offering them my perspective, this person ultimately apologized and said that their anger towards me was misguided. That moment of shared understanding was a moment of healing. For both of us.
Meaningful dialogue requires us to listen actively. To be patient and controlled. To temper our ego and our emotions so that we can work out the truth.
In today’s world, there is ample opportunity to put up walls and shut others out. To truncate progress and peace.
But we must remind ourselves that resentments and spite are the residues of unresolved conflict. And that shutting others out or pushing them down only creates losers. Had I not been open to hearing my friend out, I would have robbed him of a great gift – the gift of being heard. And robbed myself of a great gift – the gift of truly listening and learning.
This week, I challenge us all to assume the role of the listener. In uncomfortable conversations, just listen. Know that you don’t have to change your mind, but be open to the possibility. At the least, be open to the possibility of acceptance. You never know what you may learn.
Accountability, Community, Unconditional Love