Be happy at work and at home-Listen more

Can we be happy at work and at home during these divisive times?  Maybe it is time for us to listen more.

During the 2016 election a friend told me that she was sick of hearing from people who supported the other candidate, and she wrote on her Facebook page that those people should unfriend themselves or she would unfriend them if they continued to put negative messages in the comments.   She is a quiet person usually.  I can’t imagine her saying this to anyone in person, but Facebook made her much braver.

Social media does that to people.  With no one arguing back you can stop hearing any arguments to your thinking.  As my father used to say jokingly, “My mind is made up.  Don’t confuse me with the facts.”

Living in a blue state (Democrat majority) my friends assume everyone thinks the way they do.  They share ideas and all agree.  There is no argument to the contrary and if anyone wants to contradict them, they get shouted down.  They have no interest in how the other side thinks.

I like to hear both sides of an argument.  Today it is very hard to hear the other side when all the local news is focused on saying what its readers want to hear.  Local TV and radio are the same way.  When I do hear a different point of view, I am reluctant to share it with friends because they just shout it down without really listening to what I have said. What I want to hear is a good solid response not a shouted media minute.

I don’t know how or why we have gotten so divided and entrenched in our own ideas, but I hope eventually people will learn to listen to one another.  No one side is 100% right all the time. 

What is the solution?  I don’t have one, do you?  Maybe the first step is to start listening to each other.  Unfortunately to be a good listener you must want to be a good listener.  So far there is no indication that people want that.  You can’t make people listen. 

The only hope I see on the horizon is the growing frustration with this divisiveness.  If that frustration leads to action, perhaps we will start to listen to one another again.

I’ve written a list of tips on listening techniques which you will find on my blog (https://asparker.com/2015/07/top-ten-listening-techniques).  In addition, since good listening starts with being in the present without thinking of a response to what is being said, mindfulness would be a good practice for staying present. 

Maybe you think that only the Congress or the President can fix our divisiveness.  Good listening has to start somewhere so why not from us. Maybe then we will demand it from those we elect. 

Ask yourself if you have any relationships with people who think differently from you.  If your answer is no, then maybe you’ve insulated yourself from those you disagree with.  If you your answer is yes, have you avoided the topic or have you addressed it non judgmentally with people.  If the latter what was the result?

If you haven’t approached the topic but are curious to understand what the people think without pointing out how they are wrong, then ask about it and listen to their answers.  Without judgement see if you can repeat what they have said and then think about their response by asking yourself, “How can they be right?” and find ways!!

This takes courage and a great deal of self-management.  To do this you need to be willing to adjust or change your own beliefs.  Are you willing?  Gaining insight from the other point a view is a first step in finding a solution that works for everyone. Listening isn’t the total answer, but it is a start. 

Coaching

Being self-aware is the first step in improving your listening skills.  Do you talk more than you listen? Has this been a problem in your relationships at home or with the people you manage?  If so, it is helpful to have a coach to help you to develop some strategies to build better relationships.   If you are interested call me at 781-598-0388 or email me at asparker@asparker.com

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