Listen to Understand — Not to Criticize Others’ Point of View

Something happened over the recent Fourth of July holiday that was both amusing and scary to me. NPR posted the entire Declaration of Independence in a series of 100 tweets. Pretty interesting way to celebrate the 4th in my opinion.

The weird things began to happen. The NPR tweets got some angry backlash. Some people accused it of inciting violence against President Donald Trump. Others accused it of attempting to start a revolution. Still others thought that the NPR account had been hacked by someone tweeting nonsense. Some folks who initially objected to the tweets figured out what was going on as they continued to read.

The entire situation was amusing to me, as some people didn’t recognize the words on which our country was founded – even though they probably had to memorize the Declaration as a grade schooler. The scary thing was that so many people saw something out of context and jumped to conclusions.

This brings me to my main point – take the time to listen and understand before you respond. I always tell my coaching clients that when someone starts to speak and they think “that’s crazy,” or “I completely disagree” that they need to really listen because they are very likely to learn something. True, they may learn that their initial impression was correct, but at least they will be making an informed decision.

Take the time to listen to others, explore different points of view. Listen to understand. When you see something out of context, take a minute to put it into context. Be willing to change your mind when presented with new and different information. Work to find a way to resolve your differences, rather than just digging in your heels and sticking to your point of view.

Do this, and you’ll build strong relationships. And strong, mutually beneficial relationships are an important cornerstone of your life and career success.

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