Why are you offered a “penny for your thoughts” but when you have something to say, it’s known as “putting in your two cents”? I don’t remember where I first heard this comparison statement, but it has stuck with me for years. The statement finishes with “what happened to the other penny?”
Contrasting the two statements does seem to hint that when speaking, you think what you have to say is more valuable than when others ask for your opinion.
It is a sad commentary on our culture that people tend to talk over each other. I’m guilty of it at times myself. With the recent and ongoing political climate or with any “hot topic,” people appear to insist on getting their point across rather than trying to understand the what the other person is saying.
Listening – the missing skill.
One thing I learned from my management courses was a statement found in “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey. It is actually habit number 5: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” It seems with some conversations, people are not listening or even trying to see someone else’s viewpoint. Perhaps they are too busy planning their next comment.
You don’t need to agree with their viewpoint, but listening to try to understand them is a habit worth cultivating.
Another valuable skill was given in Seminary. In my counseling class, our instructor introduced the “L-U-V” acronym. We were studying Dr. Gary Smalley’s book “The DNA of Relationships” (which I found to be valuable) among others and the instructor covered this communication tool in the discussions on effective communication. LUV stood for: Listen – Understand – Validate.
- Listening involves hearing both verbal and non-verbal communication.
- Understanding includes asking for additional information and clarification. Repeating back what you heard can help to clear up misunderstandings. “What I heard you say is…….”
- Validating simply means to acknowledge that you understand their feelings or viewpoint – even if you don’t agree. “I can see how upsetting that was for you…. That must have been so frustrating….”
A verse in James offers additional insights to help us interact with people who may have different viewpoints.
“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters. You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” (James 1:19 NLT)
The emphasis in this verse is on listening more than speaking. Listen quickly. Later you can speak, but even then, keep your anger in check. You are communicating with another human – regardless of gender, race, culture, political viewpoint, etc. who is communicating from their own experiences. You may strongly disagree with their position, but you can communicate from a position of “LUV.”
It’s good advice for all conversations – hot topic or not.