We often try to persuade or convince others through an argument or debate. Unfortunately, arguing generally does not change someone’s mind, if anything, it makes the other party angry and causes them to dig in even further. What you hear from others is more important than what you say. The adage “seek first to understand before being understood” applies here.
Listening is far more powerful than speaking. When you’re silent and “listen” with your ears, eyes and heart, you pick up on what’s not being said. Verbal, visual and emotional cues will inform you how the other person is feeling and provide valuable perspective on how to respond.
Words can become barriers however empathetic silence will help you determine how to respond and connect. Next time you find yourself in a disagreement with someone, keep your opinions to yourself and just listen. Use open ended questions to encourage the person to reveal more information and provide you with valuable insight. Restate what you’ve heard and ask the other person to confirm you got their point. After they’ve shared everything you need to know, you will have earned the right to speak, make suggestions and provide your perspective. If you’ve listened well, they will likely be open to hearing and considering your viewpoint and opinion.
Seek first to understand before being understood.