Political season is here in the United States. These days it feels particularly vicious. One person calling the other names, each trying to demonize the other. As I’ve watched, read and tried to listen, it seems to me that I’m not having much opportunity to really get to know what these people really believe or intend to bring about if they are elected.
It occurs to me that while this sort of thing is incredibly obvious in the political arena, it happens in our everyday lives as well.
What would it be like to sit down with someone, perhaps a friend or even a complete stranger? And as they share, we really listened? What if we heard the words they were speaking, watched their body language, felt their energy? What if this communication were not about judging what was being shared – but coming to understand the experiences, thoughts, and feelings of the other person?
What if you knew you would not be attacked or belittled for having an opinion that is different from someone else? What if you trusted that the person you were speaking with actually cared about how you feel? What if you knew they were interested in why you think the way you do? What if it mattered just because you matter?
If you knew that someone you were sitting down with was hearing your heart; endeavoring to understand what you are thinking and feeling, would it change your desire and willingness to share?
Would bonds form or be reinforced if we knew that others were listening not with the intention of showing us how foolish or wrong we are, or even to agree that we are rather brilliant? But rather listening to come to know us better. What if we set aside the judgment and instead intended to understand one another? What if we invited empathy into the conversation? What if we discover and relish that this is the basis for true connection.
What if…just for today, we really listened?