Thursday, June 24, 2010

Arguing for the Sake of Peace

The more annoyed you are the harder it is to listen, and the more needful it is. There are people who, as soon as they open their mouths, you want to shut them up. We often forget that others besides ourselves think their ideas are good, worthy of attention, and right-headed. When they are people with whom we vehemently disagree, the temptation is to just blow them off with some shriveling words of dismissal and pat ourselves on the back for our self-perceived (or should I say self-deceived) intellectual prowess. This blowing-off accomplishes nothing good and often exacerbates any further productive communication.

It is amazing what can be accomplished when you do listen, ask questions, and respectfully counter-argue. Almost never do you change a mind, but you can change an attitude, which may be just as important. Our increasingly polarized culture is creating blow-off attitudes the size of Mt. Everest. Stepping back, clearing our hearts of antagonism, clearing our heads of fuzziness, and showing a sincere willingness to hear the other person out does more for building peace than digging in and taking snarky shots at our opponents.


John Lynch said...

"There are people who, as soon as they open their mouths, you want to shut them up."

Hey! I read this blog, you know!

Anyway, I concur wholeheartedly with this post. As someone who talks more than he should and (by implication) listens less than he should, one of my chief goals in life is to adopt an attitude of listening over talking, questioning over pontificating, and understanding over defeating. Time will tell how much I am succeeding in this endeavor. I suspect not much.

Lisa said...

I found your comment very encouraging because:
1. You agreed with me!
2. You have a commendable goal.
3. You are realistic in your expectations.
But do not be discouraged. Change is hard and it takes time.