If we said those three words more, the whole world would be different.
“You think very differently from me. Help me understand.” “I can see you’re angry. Help me understand why.” “It seems like you did something wrong. Help me understand your thinking.” “You hurt me. Help me understand why you acted in that way.”
“Help me understand.” Well, actually, it isn’t saying these three words that will change the world. It’s LISTENING to the response.
Listening means that you try to see things from the other person’s point of view. You don’t formulate arguments as to why they are wrong. You don’t jump to conclusions and put them in a slot. You don’t dwell on your opinions and feelings.
You try to put yourself in their place. You try to understand them. You try to have compassion.
Doing this will not just happen in a minute. It will take A LOT of listening. You will have to be willing to hear the background and the whole story. You will need to ask sensitive questions. You will need to use reflective listening, and repeat back to them what you hear. “So you’re saying that . . .?”
The Bible in James 1:19 says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…”
How often do we practice this? Can we really let go of our agenda and our strong emotions for a period, and really listen, without reacting?
One of my friends posted something on Facebook that incited an angry retort. Here is part of his response to this retort: “I’m sorry you’re hurt. I would be happy to listen to your thoughts in person and understand as best I can. I love you as my sister, I hope you feel the same. Let me know when we can get together, I really want to hear your thoughts and be unified in Christ. You are more important to me than the election, you are my sister; and Christ is more important than us all.”
We can’t always agree with people. But we can try to understand them. We can love them. We can respect them.
I just finished watching a silly video by Kid President on how to disagree. (Not putting the link, but you can Google.) I love how he sums it up. “It’s okay to disagree. It’s not okay to be mean. Don’t say it until you can say it with love.”