Want a deceptively simple, yet powerful way to change your world? Join the Listen & Learn Revolution. When you do, you'll be taking your own personal step towards dissolving a culture of divisiveness and conflict.
The Listen & Learn Revolution is about jettisoning the need to be right when you encounter someone whose opinion or point of view differs from yours. Instead of clubbing them over the head with your opinion, take some time to engage them with a sense of curiosity. Explore why they believe what they do, not from a, "How the hell can you think that??" perspective, but from a desire to genuinely understand.How can something so simple change the world? Because it's a step away from the toxic effect of our cultural addiction to divisiveness and conflict and toward unity, compassion, and understanding.
Here are some general principles underlying the Listen & Learn Revolution:
You won't change anyone's mind with a club
It might feel good to let that righteous indignation fly and try to prove just how stupid and wrong-headed their opinion is, but you'll rarely win any converts to your opinion that way. To the contrary, you're likely to cause them to dig their heels in even more. You're just building walls between you.
Instead of looking at every opinion that differs from yours as the starting point for an argument to prove you're right, try looking at it as a starting point for exploration. Accept the fact that you're unlikely to change their mind in a heated debate.Differing opinions are not a threat
Too often we seem to see a differing opinion as a direct threat to our own beliefs. We succumb to a "best defense is a good offense" mentality and start to attack those differing beliefs.
Here's the reality. Someone else's beliefs have nothing to do with the validity, rightness, or justness of your beliefs. Zero. Zip. Nada. Not a damn thing. So there's nothing to defend against. There's no need to put up a wall or go on the attack. And that leaves you open to simply explore.You don't have to agree to understand
So often people are reluctant to open themselves to understanding another point of view because they mistake understanding for agreement. But the two are really apples and oranges. You can understand someone's perspective even while vehemently disagreeing.
Part of understanding comes from discovering why they think what they think. You and I (and anyone else) likely have different lenses through which we see the world. Those lenses have been created by our experiences, the beliefs and values we have been taught, etc.
When you have a picture of what someone else's lens looks like, their opinions start to make more sense in that context. You may still not agree with them, but it becomes easier to see how they can view the world that way.Listening breeds listening
If you ever want to guarantee that someone won't listen to your point of view, attack theirs. Nothing will put up the walls to communication faster. On the other hand, if you start asking questions - curious ones, not judgmental - often the conversation starts to come around to your point of view.
I recently had coffee with someone I went to high school with in Montana that I hadn't seen in years. He is avidly pro-gun, and I am most decidedly not. When he first mentioned something about it, I asked him more about it. We talked about his perspective on the gun issue for several minutes until he stopped and asked what I thought.
The gun question can be one of those terminally divisive issues, and we definitely came down on squarely opposite sides of it. But because we both approached it with curiosity about the other's perspective, we ended up having a really interesting, enjoyable conversation.When you won't listen, you limit yourself
It's easy to get trapped in an ideological ghetto, surrounded by people who ditto your every thought and opinion. But just like in nature, a thriving mind ecology needs diversity. Opening yourself up to listening and understanding gives your mind more to work with. It gives you a fuller picture. It makes your valid opinions and beliefs stronger and weeds out the ones that aren't actually that solid.They just might have a point
This one is related to limiting yourself by not listening. The fact is, people you don't agree with just might have a point. That point might be the entirety of their opinion, or it might be a point of view springing from a piece of information you didn't have. Listening and learning opens the door to strengthening the breadth and depth of your knowledge.
Questions spotlight unsupported opinions
Let's face it, not everybody with a strong opinion actually has a good supporting argument to back it up. Sometimes a strong opinion is little more than a hollow echo of a soundbite they heard somewhere else. Asking interested, curious questions about why they think what they think willThe world isn't black and white
This point isn't always comfortable, but it's usually true. There are countless gradations of color between black and white. When you listen and learn, you open yourself to a subtlety of understanding that is impossible when clinging to a rigid black and white view.
Take the Listen & Learn Revolution challenge: Find someone you don't agree with on some topic. It might be a family member, or a friend, or an acquaintance. Engage them in a conversation about the disputed topic and challenge yourself to simply listen and learn. Resist the urge to set them straight. Resist the inclination to counter their reasoning. Just ask questions and absorb it.
If you want to take it a step further, set a goal to have at least one listen & learn conversation every week with someone you don't agree with. The more you do it, the more naturally it starts to come. And the more naturally it starts to come, the more you naturally do it.
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