Communication occurs nonverbally even in silence because it is impossible to not communicate. But a culture of silence is costly and erodes relationships.
Even in dialogue, it is easy to be impatient and indignant with views that oppose your own. Well-intended communication can be easily misunderstood.
If you want folks to talk with any hope of connection or solution, you must first learn to listen without judgment and seek to fully understand.
Here are four keys to listening in a way that helps people to talk:
- Create a trustworthy space in which folks know it is safe to speak their truths (build safety and trust).
- Listen deeply, patiently, and non-defensively, with intent to fully understand and learn (awaken compassion and approach with an humble curiosity).
- Communicate non-judgmentally and in such a way that makes it clear you listened and truly get the views of the other (engage validation).
- Know that it is normal for divergent truths to coexist as tensions (embrace the dialectics).
You don’t have to agree with the truth of another to fully understand their position. Respectful listening and understanding opens the door for ongoing dialogue towards finding a common ground.
Building a safe container for tolerance of dialectical tension allows space for the emergence of wise and meaningful solutions.