Listening

How to Stop an Argument 101 – Part 3

Posted by David—
Bullock Yokes

Photo courtesy of Cgoodwin

How many times has someone said to you, “If you would only listen”? I certainly couldn’t count the times I’ve been told that on the fingers of a troop of monkeys.

Now it may have been that I wasn’t listening, but more probable would have been (especially these days) is that I was listening, but I was formulating my response at the same time. That’s not really listening either, is it? Listening requires the act of taking in the other’s perspective fully and then examining them deeply to see if they apply.

I’m speaking mainly today in regards to interpersonal arguments, but listening applies to all sorts of arguments, from political to religious and scientific debates, and should be applied to all aspects of our lives.

In all communications, especially arguments, the deeper motive is generally overlooked. When we listen, we must hear the words and the meaning, but also the fear, the pain, the joy and the love. And no need to over-analyze here. We may hear fear and pain, but we shouldn’t go in and try to assume that we know why the fear and pain is there. That’s beyond our realm. The inner motives of a person are just that: inner, unproddable and out-of-bounds. If we assume that we know why they are fearful or in pain or even  joyful, we will miss the point. Don’t try to psychoanalyze the other person. Just feel the pain or feel the joy. It’s extremely presumptuous to think that we know why someone is angry or in pain. No matter how smart I think I am, I’m probably going to get it wrong.

Just the simple act of listening and feeling the pain, helps the other person heal, however painful it is for us to hear. In fact, if it’s not painful for us to hear, then it’s likely that the person isn’t healing. We must feel the pain. The problem is that if we don’t disperse the pain given to us, it will destroy us. It’s too much for us to handle on our own. Once again, that’s why Jesus hung on the Cross. There he takes all our burdens.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Matthew 11:28-30

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1 Comment

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One response to “Listening

  1. Linda

    I like and agree with the comments about listening. It is wise to formulate a thoughtful response to what’s being shared, especially to people’s deep sharing.
    Some people are better at that patience than others. Some of us process and then comment, others process by commenting. I sometimes like to have a response while I am talking to reassure me I am being heard. That response could be simply, “I’m listening.” or even, “hmmm.” On the other hand, being interrupted with a premature analysis or solution is intrusive and often inaccurate.

    Perhaps we commentors should use nonverbal responses — e.g. a gentle nod and delay commenting verbally. And maybe those most comfortable with drawing considered conclusions, could learn to offer minimal responses or ask questions to help them understand — both of which would help the speaker feel heard.

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