Say Something? Or Just Listen?

 Photo by  Jerry Pereida  on  Unsplash

Last week I gave you three important inner-resourcing, self-management practices:

1. Actually feeling the impact that things have on you when they say something triggering

2. Looking for the gold buried underneath people's judgments to find the deeper values at play

3. Seeing someone's humanity instead of treating people like objects or symbols

(Recap here, if you’d like to!)

OK, so I've done my inner work, you might say.

But now what? What do I actually say or do next?

Today, we are covering the basic steps for how to say something skillfully, and how to listen deeply.

Once you’ve identified what you are going to bat for, (ex. including multiple perspectives or building understanding) ask yourself:

What can I say or do next that is in service to these very same values?

Usually, we have two choices: Say Something or Listen.

1. Grounded Self-Expression + Vulnerability

Share your observation, “When I hear you suggesting it would be a good idea to buy a gun …”

Share your feelings, “ … I feel concerned and a bit wary …”

Point out common ground when you can find it, “… because, like you, …"

Share your values and needs, “… I long to live in a safe, secure community…”

End with an open question, “… are you open to hearing more about my specific concerns?”

“ … Can you tell me more about what having a gun at home does for you?”

“… What do you think about some of the opposing points of view you’ve been hearing from others?”

2. Deep Listening + Gentle Probing:

As you listen to others, focus on their deeper needs and interests, and don’t react (initially) to the strategies and sound bites that they are casually repeating and reinforcing (watch out that you aren’t doing the same.)

Ask about their values:

“In believing this, are you going to bat for a world that is safer? More honest? Less complex?”

“Is it that you are wanting people to be more forgiving of one another, and more understanding of mistake we make earlier in life?”

Recap: Simply restate and paraphrase what you heard them say.

We all want to feel seen and known, and when others actually hear us, it lowers our own defensiveness in the conversation.

The less we feel like we have to resist or convince one another, the more likely we will be able to actually have a discussion instead of a debate - one in which our own minds may change too, not only theirs.

Ask for clarification: “What did you mean when you said [xyz]…?” or “Can you tell me a little more about your reasons for thinking that way?”

Say that you don’t understand.

Sometimes, we simply can’t see their point of view. Just say so. When people then begin explaining themselves, they sometimes realize that they don’t actually believe what they just said, and if they can realize it themselves it’s a gentler form of learning and insight.

This works especially well when people are joking about something you find offensive, for example. “I don’t get it …” or “What’s funny about that?” or “Wait, what? I’m missing something - can you explain the joke?”