I believe communication is one of the most important but mishandled tools we have at our disposal.
It seems to me that a lot of relational issues remain unsolved due to a lack of communication or misguided ways of communicating. In my experience, conversations between groups with opposing or differing opinions often evolve into arguments rather than a mature exchange of thoughts.
The fear of being proven wrong, being humiliated or facing difficult emotions hinders our ability to communicate effectively with each other. Displays of anger, stubbornness or defensiveness suggest we’re not genuinely listening to one another.
These apprehensions and behaviors invalidate the entire purpose of conversing with others.
However, practicing maintaining composure during discussions puts us on the path toward more productive discourse. By wasting less time yelling at each other, we will have more time to make genuine progress in all aspects of our lives.
I believe the key to improving the way we speak to each other is to change our mentalities when it comes to conversation.
First, we should be able to decipher between provable facts and unfounded opinions. Opinions are subjective perspectives. However, many people attach their identities so strongly to certain conditioned beliefs that they see them as indisputably accurate rather than one of many viewpoints, responding with intense rage and uncomfortable cognitive dissonance whenever those beliefs are challenged. This is an irrational and unproductive approach to communication.
Second, we should practice active listening by paraphrasing what the other side is saying. If this is too difficult, ask them questions for clarification before sharing your own thoughts. Not only will this make you more respectable and help the other person truly feel heard, but it will also allow you to respond more effectively. You cannot have a discussion with someone if you don’t even understand what they are expressing.
Third, we should stop using argumentative language. Debates do not have to be about competing to “win.” At their best, conversations are an opportunity for people to share thoughts, learn from each other and mutually enhance their understanding of each other, themselves and the situation at hand.