it’s time to be civil (13)


4. Listen. ‘Much of the conflict in our lives can be explained by one simple but unhappy fact: we don’t really listen to each other.’ ( Michael P. Nichols) …

“We are ineffective listeners when we let our past experiences interfere with the attention we should give to our present moments. For instance, we often let what we already know – or believe we know – of others alter our perception of what they are telling us at this very moment, in this unique set of circumstances. …

“Oftentimes it is not the past but the future that makes us poor listeners. When we listen with the future in mind, we are focused not on the speaker but rather on the outcome of our verbal exchange. We let the pursuit of our own goals take precedence over everything else. …

“Now, I am not suggesting that we should completely ignore past experience and abstain from pursuing personal goals when we interact with others.That would not only be impossible but unwise. I am saying that as listeners we have an obligation to concentrate on just listening before doing anything else.”

Choosing Civility: The Twenty-Five Rules of Considerate Conduct by P.M. Forni (St. Martin’s Press, 2002); pp. 48,50-51

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