Seek Understanding

On Monday I tweeted out and posted this question on my Facebook page. I was doing some thinking about conversations that I was in and how sometimes I try to make sure my point is made. I’m finding that’s not always the best route to go. Check out my thought below.

It generated a couple interesting comments and lots of “Likes”. So it got me thinking, if people agree about this why doesn’t it happen more? So I thought I’d share three ways that I try to seek understanding in hopes that it might be useful for you too.

1) Ask Questions – This probably seems pretty obvious but it’s the most unused way of seeking understanding. It’s always easy to respond in a conversation with what you think. It’s not as easy, and somewhat humbling, to ask a question. Ask what they meant. Ask them why they think that. The best part of asking questions is that it means we are (should be) listening.

2) Put Yourself in their Shoes – Most times in arguments/debates we are only thinking about our context. “How will the conversation effect me?” I have had some of the biggest ah-ha moments when I’ve taken a second to think about their context. Or, the problem they are dealing with. Sometimes it can be as simple as someone having a bad day and it comes out in your in conversation. Disarm this possibility by asking questions about them at the beginning of the conversation.

3) Work Towards The Same Goal –  Often times we are representing our point in a conversation. What we think is right. There is an aspect of conversation where it’s important to get that out. But then we get to a point where it becomes personal. That’s when we need to shift our focus. Once we reach that point we should be making sure both sides are working towards the same goal. It saves a lot of time, energy, and emotional baggage. If you feel a conversation is going the wrong way bring everyone back around to the same goal with a simple reminder of what the discussion should be working towards.

There are a couple ways that I try to use when having a conversation. Try to remember to shift the focus from you and think through the lens of the person you are working with.