How to End Conflicts by Listening

Often, simply by deeply listening to another person, an ongoing conflict can be resolved. The skill of receiving the experience of another person, so that you actually are in "attunement" with them, can be the exact thing that is needed to end the disconnect created by a conflict. This communication skill can be easily learned, in fact, we are biologically programmed to be good listeners. Why then is this essential element of communication so often unused, when it is so helpful in putting an end to our every day conflicts? Here are three fairly typical reasons why we find it hard to listen:

Defending Ourselves

The first is that we are too busy defending ourselves to have room for another persons feelings or thoughts. When we are busy strategizing how we are right and how the other person isn't getting the picture, that is all that occupies our mental world. In this case we are not interested in what they are saying and what it means to them, we are only interested in making judgments about their feelings or thoughts. We are reacting to their thoughts and feelings only in relation to what we feel and think. We find it difficult to hold and contain our own experience and keep it separate from the other person's, so that instead of reacting and defending we can simply be present and be open to their experience.

Discomfort with Another's Feeling

Another common reason we find it hard to listen, is that just being present and taking in what the other person is feeling can make us uncomfortable. We may think we are supposed to do something. We may feel it is not enough to just be there and listen. Being present is something that we can all learn and value by practicing it in real life situations. In this way we soon realize that often the other person just needed to know that we can and want to receive what is going on with them, without having to do anything else. This simple act of listening, implicitly says that we care.

Our Own Need to be Heard Dominates

When our minds are too busy defending our inner narratives, it keep us from being able to hear the other person. It may be that our own need to be heard may be so active that we can not quiet our minds enough to be present. It is important to recognize when this is happening. It is possible in this situation to say to the other person that although you want to hear what they are saying, you are not able to be receptive. You can suggest that it might help if they listened to you first. It is often the case that in being heard, your need will be met and that you can have more room in your mind for the other. To learn more about listening and to practice please visit a free on-line conflict resolution process.

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