Years ago I was at a party and was talking to a couple I didn’t know. After the wife expressed an opinion different from her husband’s he said, “that’s a good point.” It struck me then because I was in a relationship where I pretty much felt steamrolled in conversations. Any time I thought differently about an issue or offered my point of view I was met with more of a lecture or reasoning why I didn’t know what I was talking about. I felt extremely misunderstood and so a lot of what I thought and felt I didn’t voice.
I’ve not only been in situations where I’ve been unable to contribute to conversations but also been the one to make it difficult for someone else to get a word in. If I’ve made my mind up on something it’s very hard for me to stay open and see more options and possibilities. If I think I know the answer and someone points out another way of approaching the problem it takes a lot of restraint to listen to what they have to say.
At some time or another during a conversation it’s easy to lack an openness to learning. And because conversations are fluid it means sometimes we’re going to be the one to shut the other out or the other will be the one that only allows conversations that fit their point of view.
Think for a minute about what getting defensive, lecturing, or shutting down a conversation does to someone. It can cause a person to become depressed, violent, agitated, unhappy, misunderstood, so frustrated they decide to leave.
If we want to feel calm, happy, and understood in our conversations what types of interactions make us feel this way?
When we are free to express ourselves and exchange ideas and thoughts we have room to breathe and stand in our value. When there is teamwork, synergy, and support in an interaction we leave that conversation feeling our contribution has been heard. It’s not about agreeing or disagreeing but about acknowledging – “that’s a good point.” “I hear what you’re saying.” “I never thought of it like that.” “Thanks for sharing that.”
- understanding that each person’s perspective comes from the experiences they’ve had – that not one persons journey is the same. People think differently
- not taking someone’s opinion personally
- knowing that there isn’t one right way
- slowing down and letting the other person contribute to the conversation
- seeing every encounter as an opportunity to grow
- knowing we don’t have to agree
- knowing we don’t have to convince others of anything
we create a sense of safety in sharing thoughts and ideas.