I have the impression that most people have forgotten how to listen in a sincere way and I am probably the person who needs to re-learn it the most. Usually, I am more eager to shut the discussion down than listen to the other person. (Except Fuckbois, like nobody has the time to listen to fuckboi arguments, k?)
I am talking about discussion on topics that matter to me. A discussion where arguments from both sides are heard (heard not agreed on) is more constructive and productive than me insisting that every argument apart from mine are total bullshit. I mean I can listen first and still explain afterwards why I do not agree or see them as invalid, right?
BUT DAMN IT IS SO HARD TO LISTEN TO PEOPLE WHO ARE THINKING WOMEN ARE NOT OPPRESSED ANYMORE BECAUSE THEY HAVE THAT ONE FRIEND WHO IS A MANAGER OR WHATEVER THAT MAKES AS MUCH MONEY AS THEM AND GLOBAL WARMING IS ALSO FAKE BECAUSE IT WAS SNOWING LAST WINTER LIKE ARE YOU SERIOUS?!?!?!
I am a bit disappointed in myself that I became over the last 5 years such a bad listener because for more than half of my life I did nothing but listening to others (parents, friends, media). But during this period listening was tightly linked to obeying and the demand of not talking, so I guess this is why it became so difficult for me now.
WHY SHOULD I LISTEN TO PEOPLE I DISAGREE WITH?
Even though I am usually very convinced that my point of view is the right one, it is also very likely that I am missing out a very important detail or that my view is only working out for a small part of society and not for everyone. Additional opinions are an addition to the complexity of a discourse and they complete the overall impression.
Also, how am I supposed to change anything when I have never gained an understanding of the opposing position? Maybe their opinion is based on a misunderstanding or lack of experience. Maybe my opinion is based on a narrowed perspective. Wars might be won by fighting forcefully but sustainable change comes by opening conversations where both sides are heard.
Don’t get me wrong, I know all this and still end up flipping tables and yelling during the discussion. I am really, really bad at this. However, I have found a few tricks to keep myself from screaming and insulting for at least some time.
1.) Tell yourself that the opposition is not a group of assholes. At least not straight at the beginning! You can still say that after evaluating their arguments.
2.) Only interrupt if you want to ask for vocabulary explanation otherwise shut the fuck up. Try to get what they mean by using words such as “we”, “all”, “they” etc. This helps you to understand the argumentation.
3.) Don’t complain about weak rhetoric. Just don’t.
4.) Use “problematic” instead of “bullshit” because this is what you mean. Their argument is PROBLEMATIC or UNCLEAR and not – I repeat – NOT BULLSHIT. Don’t be rude just because you disagree.
5.) Make clear that you do agree with parts of the argumentation if this is the case. Rather than focusing on the differences, mark the similarities and use this as a starting point for a conversation.
6.) Ask about the sources of “facts” and try to believe that “personal experience” is a valid one, just point out that you might have had different ones. (See point 4)
All these points sound super easy in theory but I usually fail after 30min. All I can do is practising it again and again with the hope that instead of 30min I might last 45min at some point. I like to believe that this routine will help me to become a better listener or at least make me simply step out of the discussion without being all aggressive. Small steps my friends, small steps.