Listening To Those Who Disagree With Us
I had an acquaintance several years ago. She was a charming woman. She was intelligent and generally quite friendly. However, she had one not-so-charming habit. You were not allowed to disagree with her. You could have been laughing about something funny said only moments ago, and then suddenly, some unlucky soul would say the "wrong" thing--and it. got. stressful. Her temper would flare, her face would contort, and you were public enemy #1.
So, for the most part, people just didn't disagree with her--in front of her, at least. Some even avoided deep conversations with her, simply because they were afraid to to discover they may not see eye-to-eye on something and she'd lose it. I find this tragic. She is a good person with a kind heart. But the thing is, hearing differing points of view is an important way we learn and grown as people. That's something my acquaintance could not experience. Have you known someone like this? Maybe sometimes--it's you or me.
We've all been the one, at one time or another, who was taken aback at the differing points-of-view of a friend--especially if we'd always assumed we were in the same "camp." However, if it's an ongoing issue for us, we might want to reflect. I can't tell you how many times I've looked back on an opinion I held so tightly in the past, only to laugh at how closed-minded I'd been. There are also some views I held then, that I still hold. The point is--if we never listen to differing opinions, how can we hope to genuinely defend our own? If our opinions are never challenged and we don't have new information, how can we know where we actually stand on a topic--today?
What if we try and widen our focus a bit--via reading,Ted Talks, or dare one say--spending time with people with different points of view. You don't have to change your mind or pretend to agree. But--stay and calmly listen, if you can.
When I was a kid, my Dad used to tell me "people can only walk in the light they can currently see--and that includes you and me." It took me many years to understand what on earth he meant by that. Now, it is an ever-present reminder to try and be patient with those who don't "see" as clearly as we think we do about something. Inevitably, someone else is probably having to patient with us, too. ;)