Don’t Argue Alone

Everyone considers their viewpoint a good one.

Everyone thinks that they’re right.

We need to think differently about the way we do things, when the current way isn’t working

How then might we start to create this change?

A good start is to spend time listening to someone else with a view to understanding their viewpoint. Avoid inserting yourself, your thoughts, just listen and hear what they’re saying. This might be uncomfortable, difficult and unfamiliar.

Get curious. What do they think? What do they believe? Why do they believe it?

Reflect what you’ve heard back to them to ensure you have understood what they are saying and to demonstrate your attention. Ask more questions to fully understand their world views.

When you’ve heard them, ask informed questions. Questions that tease and tug at the warp and weft of their world view. Through a process of testing and articulation, your questions might assist in reshaping the fabric of their views. This may take a lot of listening and a lot of questioning but the aim is to find some common ground or start the reshaping of ground.

The thing is, that no matter how well we make our points in an argument, if they don’t speak to the world view of your counterpart, more often than not they will fall on deaf ears. We need to take the time to understand their world view. Once understood, we can incorporate this understanding in such a way that they’ll work alongside in changing and come along with us.

It’s a question of empathy. Are we empathetic enough to listen rather than argue. Taking the time to understand someone’s world view, even when it doesn’t correspond with our own, is always going to move you closer to a position of change than arguing.

Sometimes change can be delivered by listening and questioning.

Sometimes we might not agree with someone’s world view and still be able to be able to argue side by side for the same thing.

We’ll never know unless we take the time to listen.

It’s more productive to listen than to argue.


This post was inspired by the extraordinary work of Deeyah Khan who has changed people by taking the time to listen empathetically. She has a beautiful conversation on Extreme Listening with Simon Sinek on his podcast A Little Bit of Optimism.

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