In my early 20s, I wasn’t interested in school violence prevention. I had big ideas about contributing to world peace. After serving in the Peace Corps, I worked on a Master’s in international development, focused on conflict resolution. This was in the early 90s, before “Columbine” was associated with a high school massacre. An internship in the heart of America changed my worldview.
You may be a really good communicator, but if you use “but” in the way I just did in this sentence, think again. Doing so just negated the positive sentiment I tried to convey in the first half of that message. Even when you disagree with someone, there is a simple communication strategy you need to start using, to improve the way you engage in the most difficult conversations.
Listening is not always easy. These days, in particular, we are surrounded by constant noise, controversy and chaos. The most successful people on our planet are skilled at listening. As I mentioned in a previous article, my grandmother once said there’s a reason the words, “listen” and “silent” have the same letters. To be a good listener, we need to first learn how to be silent.