Listening and Learning

If you’re read Muttroxia for any length of time, you know I’m a fierce opponent of the modern GOP. I have found it hard to find representatives of “the other” side to have rational discussions with. I know there are plenty of smart Bush supporters out there, who have supported him for reasons that make perfect sense, but I haven’t found many.

I also belong to a Yale alumni book group. It’s fantastic, filled to the brim with smart people who seem to know everything about everything. It’s a surprisingly diverse group, except politically. One of my first meetings, I watched as the whole group ganged up on one guy who was a unabashed Bush supporter. He held his own just fine. Since then, I’ve been more and more impressed by him. His outlook on the political world is wildly different than mine. But whenever I have talked with him, he has truly listened to my point, and given it the respect of “trying it out” before replying. He is always quick to acknowledge when you have made a good point, and never distorts his own position to strengthen his debating position.

This makes it very rewarding to talk to him, because you feel like you have a chance to actually change someone’s mind, or at least influence their thinking. The amazing thing is that I find myself getting into the same mindset. When he has a criticism about “my team”, or simply a different way of seeing the world, I find myself much more agreeable, and willing to accept his view as valid.

I am positive that this man would just laugh if someone tried to say he was using Passive, Attentive, Active, or Effective Listening. Nevertheless, there’s no doubt that his communication style plays a kind of verbal jujitsu. He changes an opponent into a partner, and by allowing the other person to influence him, is able to influence the other person. He’s a living demonstration of how a communication style can have surprsising results.

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