Not every discussion is an argument that needs to be won.
Not every argument must be won.
Sometimes, conversations are ongoing and require attentive ears and tender words.
We no longer live in a society where we listen to understand. No, we “listen” in order to proffer our more informed opinion. We wait for that small sliver of space in which we can shoehorn in our opinion. And we rarely enter into a conversation with disarmed to the fact that what the other person has to say may just help us more clearly see the world around us.
I never fully realized what it’s like to just listen in order to understand and to do so without the intention to respond. But, that’s what I’ve worked really heard to do over the last few years. You cannot believe the insight you gain from people when you simply listen to what they have to say. You hear their story and their experiences. It doesn’t mean you have to agree or approve, but it also doesn’t mean you have to automatically filter it through your viewpoint and then set loose your opinion.
But, what if the other person asks your opinion? What if they open your shared floor for some debate or explanation? Consider the audience and temper your words accordingly. To paraphrase what I state previously: not every debate must be won in one shot. Sometimes those conversations require careful considerations of the person to whom one is speaking. To consider their background, where they’ve come from, and why they believe what they believe. And, sometimes, they need time to ferment. In those instances it’s less about winning and more about caring for the soul sitting across from you. To think about them first, and our need to score a “win” not at all.
It’s been said that no one is as deaf as the man who will not listen.