26. Oct, 2016

How To Disagree and Stay Friends

When my wife, Gina, and I first got together we decided upon an annual ritual for our Wedding Anniversary. We would choose a quiet restaurant we particularly liked and would each listen in turn to the other person say what they didn't like about the past year together.
 
Further, the listener was absolutely NOT allowed to question or comment, simply LISTEN! 
 
After each had spoken their views, over a very special meal, we would decide to remain together or part as friends. It took the best part of a decade to get all-the-junk out of the way and we've remained a rather special item for more than 40 years. 
 
As twenty-somethings, however, we didn't know that we had stumbled across a very, very powerful insight; something Steven R. Covey called, "I seek you out".
 
When people fight, everyone loses something!
 
When tensions are high and confidence is low, try this ... 
 
Say, "You see things differently to me. I need to listen to you".
  • Then, pay the price to really understand. 
  • Give your full attention.
  • Don't mentally multitask, prejudge, evaluate or analyse.
  • Don't make notes, commiserate, offer excuses or argue.
  • Be still and be quiet.
  • Say nothing other than to encourage such as, "Go on", "OK", "Hm".
  • REMEMBER, you are listening to THEIR story, not your version of it!
  • Be willing to learn. 
  • Be willing to change.
  • OR, be willing to walk away from the relationship as friends!
*John Stuart Mills says, "If there are any persons who contest a received opinion, let us thank them for it, open our minds to listen to them, and rejoice that there is someone to do for us what we otherwise ought."
 
If you have paid the price to truly understand someone, they will be ready to hear your story. 
 
* 'On Liberty and Other Essays', page 31.