In an effort to Get our Relationships Right*, we’re asking you to practice Listening Dialogue. Will you take this on with us? We hope so! We’re convinced this is a great skill for anyone who wants to foster healthy relationships, or repair those that aren’t!
Will you join us? Here’s what it is:
What do you do when you find yourself in a conversation filled with tension, or an ongoing relationship blocked by disagreement (or a board meeting going nowhere)? Rather than evaluating their position or stating your own in an effort to win or be proved right, try to learn from the experience through Listening Dialogue. This happens in two ways:
First, through active reflection, seek to understand what the other believes and thinks. Active reflection doesn’t assume we actually understand, but seeks to summarize out loud and ask questions of clarification to ensure understanding. We do this by saying something like, “Let me tell you what I hear you saying, and you tell me if that’s right.”
Second, with curiosity and inquiry we seek to understand why they believe or think what they do. Be curious about what experience, personal story, pain or passion has formed that view in their mind. Discover what fear or value they are operating out of, and how those values are also present in your own heart. Learn from the anxiety that underwrites their action, policy or politic. A curious posture might ask, “Tell me what you’ve experienced that leads you to think that way? What facts are you working with that have helped you form that thought? What makes you most anxious about this, and why?”
I’m absolutely convinced that no one person has the whole picture and that we can and should learn from everyone. We firmly hold on to our own beliefs, but in seeing the issue through another lens we enlarge our own vision substantially.
We’re asking everyone to take this practice on, to actively listen throughout your week as a daily faith practice. Doing so will build our capacity to get our relationships right*.
* PS. This is what the Bible means by ‘Righteousness.’