After the election you may be devastated…or delighted…or just plain glad it’s over. Regardless, are you concerned by the deep divides that run through our nation? I am, big-time.
We are so polarized in our views of good / bad and right / wrong. It’s tempting to seek solidarity with those we agree with…and to keep our distance from the “other side.”
Please join me in resisting that temptation. I feel humbled by this election because it revealed the arrogance of my assumption that most reasonable people agree with me! Well, many don’t. They have their reasons, and my job as a compatriot — a fellow citizen — is to discover how they think and to learn from their point of view.
How? Through conversation. Now more than ever is the time for powerful conversations that demonstrate respect, care and curiosity — especially with people who fervently disagree with you.
My work in training leaders and coaches in Powerful Conversations features a paradox: You become powerful not when you assert your ideas, but rather when you listen closely for the concerns of the other person and meet them exactly where they are. This is much more than “active listening.” You strive not just to understand their thoughts and feelings, but also to leave them feeling deeply understood.
Here’s a challenge: Find someone who is on the “opposite” side of your opinion. Ask them to sit down and explore their views with you. Listen using the 3 levels of listening described in the audio clip:
- Level 1: Listen to understand their opinions
- Level 2: Listen to empathize with their moods and emotions
- Level 3: Listen to connect with their deepest cares and concerns (that’s when the magic begins!)
For this exercise, set aside your personal opinions and your “judging” mind. Be curious. Discover something that widens your perspective. When you think you have listened enough, check to see if your partner feels fully and deeply understood. (Just ask!)
Then appreciate yourself for taking a step towards bringing our nation together, one conversation at a time. If you like, tell me what you learned and I’ll reply personally to you.
To learn more about advanced coaching skills, check out Powerful Conversations training for experienced leaders, coaches and change agents.