I'm right! No, I'm right! But you should agree with me! But I know what I'm talking about - you should agree with me! Unfortunately, this seems to be the way many of us communicate with one another. When we say, "Can we talk?" That usually means: You should listen because I'm right! I have found that one of the things most of us really want in our relationships is to be heard. Many of us think that we are good listeners but are we really hearing one another? Are we having a debate or are we having a conversation?
The definition of a debate is to "argue about (a subject), often in a formal manner." Notice the word ARGUE. Unfortunately, that is what happens most often when we are passionate or even upset about a situation.
Conversation means: The informal exchange of ideas by spoken words. Wow! That sounds different than debating, right? This actually assumes that both people have the opportunity to voice their views and each party is listening to the other.
The election this past year has brought about many exchanges between friends and even family members that seem to sound more like debates (code for arguing) than true conversation. In fact, many friends are actually pulling away from one another and not really talking about much of anything - mostly just surface niceties - in order to "keep the peace." People have even said - Facebook is not the place to post political opinions. In fact, Facebook actually started out as a platform to exchange ideas. It is a natural place to exchange ideas in our age of technology - we just have to remember to do it respectfully - have a conversation not a debate.
Listening means more than just hearing the words that someone else has spoken. It also means to sit with what you heard. We need to process what the other person has said and then validate what was said without agreeing or disagreeing. Only then can we really formulate our own idea or opinion.
Conversation is healthy. It is part of the foundation of why our country was formed. It is important in healthy relationships. Each person's opinion is valid and important. Each person must be allowed to voice that opinion in a safe and healthy environment. Let's listen to one another. Let's learn from one another. Let's strive to have more conversation.