When someone says something that you vehemently disagree with, at what point do you stop listening? Our "Talk Show" society has a track record of "cutting off" people in mid sentence. The person is not even close to finishing an explanation of an approach and the "host" interupts. What kind of a "host" is your brain to new or differing ideas?
This past summer at a national convention, a keynote speaker told the audience organized religion was one of the three major downfalls to prosperity in the world. As the words left his mouth, you heard the room gasp. Personally I believe in spirituality. I did not gasp. I wanted to hear his explanation. I wanted to understand where he was coming from. What made him have this belief? As I listened, I heard a very spiritual man who had concerns of how religion has been used by some to manipulate individuals and keep others feeling constantly judged and guilty. He went on to say how many of the books religions are based on are extremely uplifting and prosperous books. He shared how the leaders those books are based on were people of great belief in others. Clearly, this was was not a man who did not believe in religion. He simply disagreed with how some people within a religion use faith improperly. Was his initial statement potentially exagerated? That answer depends on your personal views.
As I walked out of the room he spoke in, you could hear people complaining about the speech. "Can you believe he said that?" Other individuals seemed to be boiling mad that the conference allowed him to give that speech. By the way, the audience was speakers. Wouldn’t you think we’d be open to hearing a different viewpoint? Often we ask our audiences to do the same. By the end of the day, the reactions appeared to be 50/50. The split was not about whether you agreed with him. The split was whether you are were upset with him or not. The interesting part was how many people on the "50" who felt negatively about his speech did not hear anything he said after the initial statement. By closely listening to a few of these people, it was clear many had shut down. They did stop listening. They missed a very engaging talk.
How often do all of us do this in our professional or personal lives? Someone starts talking who has an extremely different view than us and we take the "Here HE goes" or "That is just HER" – like the person possesses weird, strange alien beliefs.
ASIDE: If you met an alien, wouldn’t you want to learn about their world? I would!
When you meet someone with views you simply can’t understand or agree with, learn more. Not to change your mind. To help you better connect with ALL people. Connection is a piece our world seems to be struggling with these days. Let each of us start in our own lives with the people we know. Who knows how far the connection may spread.
By the way, you don’t have to agree with me in this posting. I simply appreciate you keeping an open mind.