We all have opinions and we’re entitled to them, right? But when was the last time your really listened to an opposing view? Were you listening to understand?
Over the course of a single week, I encountered differing opinions several times and was reminded how important, yet difficult, it is to try and understand other view points. The saying “you’ll have to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes” comes to mind, but that’s not quite it. Going through the motions of walking in the shoes of someone I didn’t see eye to eye with didn’t seem like enough to help me understand what was going on inside their head, or the deep logic or motivation behind the decision. How could putting myself in their shoes help me to understand all the factors that influenced their decision?
So the best I can do is listen, which is fairly hard to do. My brain automatically filters what I hear and how I process that information. The voice inside my head screams, “but, but, but… What about… Are you kidding… That doesn’t make sense.” In order to understand, I had to step back and block that voice out because, I honestly did want to understand.
I find the older I get, the more quirky and set in my ways I become. But I don’t want to be that crotchety old person who complains when kids walk on my lawn. I don’t want to dig my heels in on an issue, just because. Or rely on my wisdom or previous experience. I want to state my opinion with conviction backed by facts. I also want to explain why I made the choice. But even more than this, I want to be open to seeing things in new ways.
I love it when my ideas and beliefs are swayed. Love may be too strong a word, but it is refreshing to embrace a new reality or a compelling argument and justification based on research. A new data or a different perspective can spin me around and allowing me to abandon old beliefs that may no longer serve me well.
When was the last time you really listened to someone’s opposing views? Did you understand?
Hannah Morgan speaks and writes about job search and career strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to educate professionals on how to maneuver through today’s job search process. Hannah was nominated as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Job Search and Careers and is a regular contributor to US News & World Report. She has been quoted by media outlets, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, as well as many other publications. She is also author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success.