Welcome to Insights and Implications!
This is our final newsletter of 2018. We hope you enjoyed these monthly messages and that they have helped evolve your understanding of the principles behind the human mind. Please let us know any topics of interest for next year.
Wishing you and your families a joyous 2019!
All of us at Insight Principles
Are You Listening?
Every year at this time, we look for a story that expresses the meaning and feeling of the holiday season. This year, just the right one came from our Insight Principles colleague and dear friend, Nikki Nieves. Nikki lives in a Washington state neighborhood unsettled by a controversial decision to move the school boundaries: a move that will require some families to switch middle schools.
Parents and kids bond with their neighborhood school. Change can be hard and emotional. Fortunately, in the midst of all the shouting and complaining, a wise voice emerged reminding everyone what works, what’s important, and what makes things worse. The author’s words, gleaned from a letter to her neighbors, touched us and we wanted to share them with you:
When someone is holding passionately to a position that upsets me, there is no piece of information that I can give them that will change their mind. Never. Their passion means their mind is not open to new information. And I am upset too, and may not be thinking too clearly myself. In such moments, the very best thing I can do is to listen. To listen compassionately, curiously, patiently, creatively. In detail. To try to understand what their concerns are, what they are afraid of, and to connect heart to heart.
One thing that always scares me about listening to something that upsets me is that I might be changed by what I hear. But my integrity demands that I do my best to get my own position right. And that means understanding as much of what’s happening as possible. I do not need to let go of my own morality to listen.
When I can find a way to listen well and to really connect, after a while the person I am listening to sometimes finds their own heart opening. They get curious about my viewpoint. And then we can actually exchange real information.
It’s not easy, but sometimes it works. As near as I can tell, nothing else does.
My first thought when I read this message? “Let’s please send this author to our nation’s capital (and every world capital, for that matter), and have her give instructions on listening “compassionately, curiously, patiently, creatively. In detail.”
Then I looked inward. I remembered a recent conversation I had with a family member with whom I disagreed. I remembered dismissing a colleague’s comment as wrong without noticing he was struggling to make a point important to him. My own neighborhood is embroiled in a battle over jet noise from the nearby naval air station. I’ve picked a side and decided the other side is invalid.
While I appreciate the reminder to listen first, I know the insight that will allow me to actually pull listening off is this one: I feel my thinking. Turns out, listening in the way described in the story above comes with a feeling. So does not listening. The feeling is an unerring guide when I remember to look.
I hope our insights show up the next time we hold a position different from another. I hope we are able to truly listen and maybe hear something new.
Maybe, just maybe, we will come together, one conversation at a time.