A couple of days ago, while flicking through the TV channels, I happened upon a parliamentary debate.  Within minutes I was completely fixated by the arguing, finger pointing, jeering, laughing and posturing that went on.  The most curious part of it all was there seemed to be no positive outcome!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a firm believer in my right to have a very personal point of view – one which might be completely different to anyone else.  But, the one thing I am absolutely sure about is debate doesn’t leave me feeling heard, understood, valued or seen.  It does quite the reverse.  It leaves me feeling defensive, frustrated, alone and completely misunderstood.

The reason – debate is a non relational way of navigating difference.  By its very nature it wants us to doubt what the other person/s is saying.  It also encourages us to believe there is only one right and valid perspective which means it places a high value on winning and ‘having the last word’.

There is sufficient evidence within the field of neuroscience which confirms arguing, and feeling there can be only one winner, triggers defensive and/or attacking behaviours.  Neuroscience also shows that once in defence or attack mode we lose our ability to be relational.  If we lose our ability to be relational, we lose our ability to be understood and valued.  If we lose our ability to be understood and valued we are likely to do one of two things:-

  • Find more destructive ways to be heard
  • Withdraw our energy from the situation and the relationship

The interesting thing is neither gets us any closer to feeling understood and valued.

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Inspirational Reading

This book is littered with helpful tips on how to listen as a way to get things done!