March 17 : Listening to Others during Conflicts

Often, what we really need when there is conflict is simply to know that the other person understands where we are coming from. Whether they agree with us is not so important. Sometimes, just knowing that somebody understands where we are coming from enables us to settle down. That is why, when we are trying to benefit others, to be able to listen to them in a non-judgmental way and understand what they are saying is a very good gift. 

We do not need to side with them. If our friend comes to us and says, “Guess what somebody did to me!” We do not need to jump on the boat and say, “Yes! You’re completely right. Let’s go clobber that person!” We need to say, “It sounds like you’re angry. Are you needing respect? Are you needing to be heard? Are you needing understanding? Are you needing to have some say in what happens to you?” We just guess at what others might be needing and as soon as they feel like we have heard them and understand what they really want, a lot of the anger disappears. We can see that in ourselves, especially with the people we care about a lot. The most important thing is not that they agree with our idea, not that we really win, but that they understand us, and they respect us. 

At the time we are angry, we often think to ourselves “My way is right and you’re ignoring my way! I’m going to fight for my way.” But that is not the real issue. Often, we fight about things that are not the real issue and that are not really important to us. What is important to us may be our autonomy, our ability to make our own decisions, or that somebody respects us or understands where we are coming from. Often that is much more important than the actual issue we are arguing about. 

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