The importance of open dialogue

Posted: November 2, 2020

Why listening is the first step to unity


Over the past few years, countless events have been digested by social media and turned into controversial topics.

While the current political divisiveness is partially at fault, another important factor that is often over- looked is open dialogue.

Most conflicts could be resolved if both sides were simply able to listen and seek understanding from each other.

To do this, both sides must understand that all humans are, to some extent, unavoidably self- righteous. A common form of cognitive bias is “the illusion of moral superiority,” in which people inflate their own moral values and often believe that they’re morally superior to others. Shouting matches rarely change minds (it’s not every day that someone in a Twitter feud admits they were wrong), but even rational arguments face challenges.

Try starting with empathy. Ask: Why does this person believe what they believe? Why would an intelligent person come to this conclusion? Nobody was born with their beliefs; they at some point accumulated them from their environment, which people have little control over. Knowing why someone might believe something is key to under- standing them and the reason for their position on a topic.

Next, If you expect the other person to be willing to have an open mind for your beliefs, it’s only fair you reciprocate that with them. When it’s your time to speak, there is no better way to illustrate your point than with facts. Present- ing the other person or group with facts is crucial when having civil debates or even just a discussion. Everyone has heard enough rhetoric by now.

Listen for the sake of listening — not to develop counter-arguments. This includes listening to all sides of an issue including the ones that you’d rather avoid.

Difficult conversations can’t be avoided. People become frustrated when they feel they aren’t being heard, which is one of the biggest threats to our democracy.

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