People like to talk. And they like to be heard. Notice when two people are arguing how both parties compete with one another to talk over the other. No one is listening. When this happens without pause, no one can be heard. Nothing is accomplished. They might as well be talking to the wind.
While wanting to be recognized and heard is an innate characteristic we all have, there are advantages to stepping back, being quiet, and listening instead. The real advantage lies in being the listener. To gain this upper hand, you must quell the impulse within and concentrate on listening to your opponent. Here are four very good reasons to do just that:
1) Listening Indicates Respect
When you are quiet so that your opponent can speak his/her mind, you validate their feelings and show respect for their opinions. It is hard to feel antagonistic toward someone who gives you that level of respect.
What you get in return: Your opponent feels validated and becomes more open to hearing your opinion. They let their guard down. This sets the environment for meaningful communication.
2) Acquiring Perspective
Employ active listening. When you listen with an ear to really hearing what your opponent is saying, you gain perspective into his/her mind. To hear someone is to place yourself in their shoes and understand where they are coming from. Often, learning new information from another person’s point of view will change how you see the issue. When you can identify with their point, it becomes personal.
Knowledge is power. When you get information about your opponents’ wishes and desires, you gain strategic influence.
What you get in return: You gain insight in the intent, motivations, and desires of your opponent. You experience their side within yourself. Changing how you view the issue will help you work toward a resolution everyone can benefit from.
3) Coming to a Feel-Good Solution
If your goal is a win-win result, the best of all outcomes, listening gets you past the stalemate of inaction. You’ll never reach a conclusion until there is progress in exchange of ideas. The only way to do that is for one side to hear the other and vice versa. A lesson today’s politicians should learn.
What you get in return: It starts the process toward mutual resolution. The process cannot begin between two stubborn people demanding the other give in to their desires.
4) Changing Your Opponent’s Perception
To be the first to stop and listen puts you in the driver’s seat. You gain the leadership advantage. When you allow your opponent the first expression, you are steering the course of the argument.
Leading with your unexpected action gives you the advantage because you are perceived as confident in your stance. Taking the high road is not an easy thing to do. It is the mark of a leader.
What you get in return: There are two advantages here. One, it puts you in control. You are in the driver’s seat in this process. Two, your opponent now sees you as confident enough in your position to step back and let him/her talk – adding value to your persona.
In conflict, it’s a natural desire to aggressively force your position ahead. But if you want to move toward resolution, you’ll be the one to lead the strife into a win-win end. By stepping back, you step forward.
Copyright 2021, Monica Nelson