How can I listen better?

In the age of social media, everyone has an opinion about something. Everyone has something they want to say. Depending on the culture that you come from, you are encouraged to say what you feel. But oftentimes, despite speaking up many of us don’t feel heard. This is a key concept in Lewis Deep Democracy: the minority can feel sidelined or unacknowledged, which often is a pre-cursor to conflict.

How do I listen better?
Listening contributes to not interrupt someone speaking.

When we think about using LDD in our daily lives, we often go looking for tension. We go looking for where people are rubbing each other the wrong way and where people are cycling. But if we were to take a step back and even just really listen to people, then surely we would be able to avoid conflict altogether? But we don’t need to go looking for where there is conflict in our lives to use LDD. It can start with small steps that make a big impact. Like the following….

Eye Contact
A huge percentage of our communication is nonverbal. We often get our cues of how the person is feeling, how they are reacting, through their actions. At Lewis Deep Democracy HQ, with a lot of us spread all over the globe, we often use video chat because we understand the importance of seeing each other while we’re talking. It’s not always easy to maintain eye contact over Skype, but it makes communication a lot easier when you are looking at each other.

Don’t Interrupt

One thing I’ve found since my IKM is I interrupt people. A LOT. I’m always butting in with my opinion or my thoughts on the matter. For some people, however, it takes a lot of effort to say what they want to say. And me interrupting them? That just makes it harder for them to state their views. And yes, this is obvious. But I encourage you to just check yourself. How often do you interrupt people when you speak to them?

I don’t know about you, but I find it easier not to interrupt people when in a ‘LDD setting’. Whether it’s a check-in or an argument, I know my role, and my role is not to interrupt people. But what about in real life? Can you say the same?

Remain Neutral

In studying the art of neutrality with LDD, I’ve come to the conclusion several times that “I’m just going to be neutral ALL the time then!” Thankfully, people wiser than  me have told me to reconsider, and I’m glad I have. But that doesn’t mean that I can only be neutral when I’m working in a LDD setting. It’s important to recognize the moments you do need to be neutral. When a friend calls you up late at night in tears, what is better for them? That you take their side and cuss out their arrogant boyfriend or for you to simply hear what they have to say? To touch back on the ‘don’t interrupt’ concept, I find myself interrupting most when I vehemently agree, so much so I have to interrupt them to tell them how much I agree with them. My same-sidedness isn’t necessary here- the role has already been taken, what’s the point of me repeating the same role? I don’t need to find an opposing role, but I can remain neutral, and ask the right questions. Pull the most arrows from my friend to hear the wisdom lying underneath her no. Not all arguments are two-sided, sometimes they are within oneself that have to be verbalized. And in that situation, it’s not my responsibility to take up sides.

What is Not Being Said?

It’s no secret that no one tends to tell the whole-truth-and-nothing-but-the-truth-so-help-you-God. And for me, that’s what has become interesting. Rather than focusing on how much I agree or disagree with them, I focus on pulling in on my neutrality and hearing what hasn’t been said out loud. This is where your meta-skills come into play, and can really make a difference in how you communicate with people.

The wonderful thing about working with the LDD Method is that it is never finished- there is always more to discover: of yourself, of others and group dynamics. It’s exciting to be part of a journey that can look so deeply into ourselves and those around us. But what we want to encourage you to do is push your boundaries and see how you apply LDD in your everyday life. Does LDD affect the way you communicate with your family or friends, or even your loved one? Do you do arguments about where you should go for dinner, LDD style? If not, why not? Do you think LDD has the ability to help you in your daily life? In true LDD style, we encourage your views! Use the query form below to send us your stories. 

Photo by Joshua Ness on Unsplash.

Written by Arna van Goch.

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