There are very few people who have the ability to carry a good conversation, especially with those who have differing opinions. I’ve actually had the good fortune to meet two such people recently. Both individuals have inspired me to pursue this way of communicating.
Thinking back to our conversations, I tried to figure out what it was that made them so effective. Being naturally a private and non-confrontational person, I mused over how they actually got me to speak my mind fearlessly and honestly. The lasting impression they left with me was that they seemed to really be curious about what I thought. They asked questions in such an open and neutral manner that it was easy to see they really wanted to learn about me and not to simply attack my beliefs. They rarely offered their own opinion until I remembered to ask them questions myself!
It seems so simple, but it’s not. Especially if you’re really invested in your opinions and ideology. We so often use conversation to tell others what we think, rather than using that opportunity to seek out a new perspective. I’m sure I’m not alone in stating that it feels pretty good to be able to safely speak my mind and be received with consideration and respect.
Am I only seeking the opinion of people I know who will agree with me? Do I feel comfortable stepping out of my in-group preference? Have I stopped noticing others around me because I’m so absorbed in my own thoughts?