It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. — Aristotle
Some people seem to live in a place of perpetual disagreement. No matter what is said they feel a need to disagree with it or at the very least add some bit of correction to it. It’s almost as if their carry a “Yes but” or “What you probably don’t know…” on the end of their tongue and are ready to drop them like a hammer on anyone else’s expressed idea or thought.
Their need to be heard, to say something, and ultimately to be right or to appear to know is not just unattractive. It’s in many ways repulsive and causes people to want to keep a distance. Often they don’t understand why people are keeping a distance…and I have heard more than once a person express their belief that people avoided them because, “They are intimidated by my knowledge.”!!
On the other hand when someone expresses an idea and the listener receives it with interest instead of criticism something much different can happen, in part because a most basic need is beginning to be met. The need to be understood.
In receiving the idea, one does not have to accept it or agree with it. Just like I can receive a person into my circle of friends or even into my home for an evening who may have a different philosophy and lifestyle. I can entertain them, enjoy their company and be considerate of their views without adopting them for myself.
Statements I have learned from the Aristotle’s in my own life as they responded to another’s idea have sounded like this…
“That is an interesting idea, please tell me more about it.”
“Yours is a viewpoint that I hadn’t considered…I am glad you have shared it with me.”
“I now understand just a little bit more about your world view and am better for it, thank you.”
“Yours is an idea I have never considered I want to take some time to think more about it. Thank you for sharing it with me.”
These types of statements can go a long way towards creating a meaningful dialogue that seeks true understanding rather than a debate where the chief focus is on winning by proving which idea is better or which person is right.
I have always loved Covey’s teaching. ”Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”
In our seeking first to understand…. we are not obligated to seek for agreement… just understanding.
And it’s been my experience that their is seldom agreement without understanding. Even the kind of agreement where we agree to disagree.
Do you agree? :)