Deye is a Communications major at the University of Cincinnati. He participated in a class this past year that got him involved with Beyond Civility.
You and a friend (or coworker, parent, etc.) have gotten into the dreaded political discussion. You know your friend doesn’t share the same political affiliations as you, but somehow the path of the conversation entered that feared political realm. I was in the same situation quite recently.
I was having lunch with a couple of people and we brought up the 2016 candidates now in the race and we began discussing the season of primary debates that is upon us. I disagreed with a fair number of the points brought up by my lunch partners—and I let them know, in a respectful way.
However, what I am only realizing now, is that I’m not sure I can recall the points that they were making. Being too preoccupied with formulating my responses, I’m not sure I really took any time to take in what they were saying. I was listening to respond, instead of listening to understand.
It’s a cliché, sure. Yet, I think that it is an adage that ought to carry meaning for those seeking to go beyond civility. By listening only to respond, I lost a chance to see the world though another’s perspective. Maybe if I had really listened, I could tell you what my friends had said—I could have inched closer towards understanding instead of remaining stagnant in my growth. Next time, despite the difficulty, I’ll try to listen to understand—will you?