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Learn to listen in 3 easy steps

Updated: May 6, 2023

After contemplating on some reframes and underpinning dynamics that make conflict unsustainable and unfruitful, I want to offer some practical tips on how to resolve conflict.




Listen!

When we stop listening and become preoccupied with strategies of how to best defend our position. We harden around our opinion and start identifying with it. This leads to interpreting everything the other will say as a threat. If we return to listening, we create space.


First step: listen to yourself!

We do not only stop listening to the other but also to ourselves. We are in a state of arousal, potentially in fight flight and our sympathetic nervous system is activated. The prefrontal cortex that helps us make decisions is on pause. So the moment we start listening to ourselves, the tone of our voice, the sensations in our body and become aware, we can also relax this and drop back into a more centred state.


Second step: listen to the other!

Not only their words, but their entire being. Notice their face, their posture, the tone of their voice. Try not to judge but simply observe and listen. It sounds cliché but the need to be seen and heard is at the core of much conflict. By attending to this need, acknowledging and giving space to the other, the dynamic will shift drastically. Even if you still don't agree.


Third step: listen to the relationship!

Imagine you are including the other into an imagined bubble of awareness that exists around your body. Notice the shared space you inhabit. Become aware of commonalities. Breathe in sync. And possibly say to yourself "I am with you" while still listening to yourself and the other as well. If you managed to access this fully it can express in a powerful and tangible shift. It is almost as if the the tension in the air releases and on the receiving end it can be felt as well. There is no more opposition but connection. No more against but only with.



If you "only" manage to do this one thing: to listen fully, you will transform much of your life, relationships and particularly conflict.


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