We are terrible at listening to people we disagree with

“We are terrible at listening to people we disagree with.”

That was the topic of a TEDx speaker yesterday in Portland.

Chanel Lewis was visiting a local flea market, taking pictures for her Instagram account when she met two staunch Republicans who wanted to know what she was doing and why. She explained she was looking for unusual images. Somehow, that evolved into politics and she quickly discovered she had nothing in common with these two men. But she chose to continue the conversation with them because she’s practicing “internal quieting, and radical listening.” That’s where you turn off your inner murmur and just listen.

Why listen when you know you’ll never agree with someone? Why not shake your head and just walk away?

  • Because it’s civilized to disagree respectfully.
  • Because it’s important to understand that saying what you know and what you believe won’t necessarily change someone’s mind.
  • Because it’s good practice to show empathy, compassion, and understanding even in the toughest conversations.
  • Because only with radical listening can we get to radical change.

When you learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable no new task is too daunting. No change of habit is insurmountable. And no conversation is too scary.

When you do inventive, cool work, you won’t always know who your allies are. If everyone on the planet is a potential partner think how far you could take your ideas. Just sayin…

Sending you peace and love from the rocky coast of Maine.

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2 thoughts on “We are terrible at listening to people we disagree with

  1. It’s a bold move these days, taking on TWO Republicans… but I suppose that the point is to NOT take them on, but just to listen. My problem is the *howtheheckcanyoubelievethatcrap* response which so quickly comes to my lips! My internal quiet is sorely stressed these days…

    Love the worm’s eye view of the beach tho!


  2. Yes! It’s impossibly hard when you disagree so strongly. But to move forward as a group, we have to listen, to be inclusive, and to come up with solutions that are beyond each of us individually. Perhaps that’s the gift of this administration – that we now feel impelled to take up the cause to try to make things better in any way we can.

    And that was not a worm on the beach. It was a clam. I was shooting on the half-shell 🙂


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