In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to offer a simple yet challenging suggestion to help heal the current political divide involving Donald Trump; can you listen to the people who have different opinions to you?
First a quick update:
“8 Tips To Handle Being Overwhelmed”
Are you faced with countless challenges, tasks, expectations, duties and responsibilities in life – at work and at home – the feeling of being buried, completely overcome, defeated, afraid or anxious? Discover the 8 tips to handle being overwhelmed
“Why Do You Always Need To Be Right?”
What is the real cause of needing to be right?
Do you or someone you know always need to be right?
Here are 7 signs of trying to be right, and the real cause of needing to be right. Watch the video. https://youtu.be/-UGt31l9BN8
Now, let’s talk about a simple yet challenging suggestion to help heal the current political divide involving Donald Trump; can you listen to the people who have different opinions to you?
Rick is not a Donald Trump supporter while his sister is a Donald Trump supporter. Their friendship and relationship has almost been completely destroyed by their constant and heated arguments over politics and the presidency of Donald Trump.
What do you do when you and your sister or a friend or even a stranger clash in political opinions?
What do you do when the difference of opinion creates intense emotions and reactions?
Prior to takeoff, a woman on a plane berated the man who sat next to her over his support for Donald Trump; he came to DC to celebrate Trump’s Presidential Inauguration. She was angry and vocal and requested that he move seat. Eventually, the woman was escorted off the plane.
At a time when there is strong and clear division in the country, how can people heal the divide or at least bring a peaceful resolution and acceptance of opposing opinions and beliefs?
The most common responses are to either ignore the subject (not discuss it at all) or simply say to each other “let’s agree to disagree.”
However, neither of these approaches helps to heal the divide, create a peaceful resolution or bring about necessary understanding.
The simplest yet hardest thing to do is to actually listen and express empathy.
Listening can result in understanding and acceptance.
Rick told me he was sincerely devastated by the negative effect the arguments with his sister were having on his relationship with her.
I suggested using empathy when speaking or communicating with her.
Empathy involves understanding and sharing the feelings of another person.
Understanding is the cognitive aspect and sharing is the affective aspect of empathy.
“Change happens by listening and then starting a dialogue with the people who are doing something you don’t believe is right.” – Jane Goodall
I suggested to Rick that he listen to his sister and let her speak completely – allow her the opportunity to finish her sentence before speaking next. I also suggested that he withhold judgment while he is listening to her. Withholding judgment is the greatest challenge.
I suggested that he ask questions of her to fully understand what her position is and why she holds that position.
I also suggested that he repeat back to her some of her phrases and words so that it is clear his sister that he is fully listening, fully engaged and understanding what she is saying.
“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” – Winston Churchill
Next, I suggested that if she says something that he does not understand, he can simply request for her clarification of his interpretation of her words.
Interestingly, as we discussed empathy and listening (along with the suggestions above), Rick said it was clear to him that he doesn’t listen enough. Note here that I never told him that he doesn’t listen; I listened to him and offered suggestions for radical or active listening and he came to his own conclusion that he needed to listen more to his sister.
Most of us begin a conversation with the clear intention that ‘I am going to convince the other person that I am right…my opinion is right…you are wrong…I am smart and you are stupid…etc.’
How often do we begin a conversation with the intention that ‘I’m going to listen to the other person, understand them fully and then share my thoughts and opinions’?
“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.”
– Bryant H. McGill (author, activist, and social entrepreneur)
When the lady sat down on the airplane in DC, she turned to the man next to her and asked if he were in DC to celebrate or protest the Presidential Inauguration of Donald Trump. As soon as he said he had been there to celebrate the inauguration, the woman began to insult him and quickly asked the flight attendant to move him to another seat.
She made no attempt to begin a dialogue with him (a conversation or discussion to resolve a problem.) She made no attempt to understand his position or listen to his thoughts and perspectives.
When you choose to listen fully and actively to someone, you will learn who they are and why they think the way they do, you will gain their respect because you showed them respect and significance, and then, they will welcome your perspective and opinions.
You will most likely be shocked yet inspired when you learn you probably have much more in common than you thought.
“Listening is such a simple act. It requires us to be present, and that takes practice, but we don’t have to do anything else. We don’t have to advise, or coach, or sound wise. We just have to be willing to sit there and listen.” – Margaret J. Wheatley
Great theory – does it work?
“As the lady was removed I saw that I was surrounded by blacks, Latinos, Asians and whites, all who had chimed in asking her to be removed and who had defended me. I was touched and moved knowing later that not all these people were Trump supporters. The black man who took the seat next to me was a registered Democrat and he and I had a very good discussion about the beauty of free speech and coming together when people insult and commit acts of violence just for having differing views.”
– Scott Koteskey (the man sitting next to the woman who berated & insulted him on the airplane in DC)
And yes, Rick adopted my approach with his sister and as they learned more about each other, they also learned that they both really care about their country and they care about each other. They have a stronger relationship now because they expressed empathy to each other and they can listen, learn from and trust each other.
You can add to the conversation below.
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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”
Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist