How to listen when you don’t agree

Two women discussing in an office setting.
  • Ask questions. It’s so easy to think I already know what someone’s position is, but do I really? Asking questions opens doors. It softens the interaction and provides an opening for the other person to ask questions too. It puts both people in a learning mode.
  • Stay calm. Megan Phelps-Roper describes how her new Twitter contacts responded when the conversation got hard and heated. They would step back, lighten the mood, or change the subject. There was an understanding they would come back to the issue, but only after both sides cooled down.
  • Make your case. Communication goes both ways and just listening is not enough. You also need to state your own view, clearly and fairly. But notice how this is the last step — after an atmosphere of listening has been established between both parties.

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