I am a big believer in the book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. One of the habits is, “Seek first to understand and then be understood.”
When we hear something with which we disagree, or first reaction is, “Red Alert! Shields up! Arm photon torpedoes. Lock phasers on target.” Our ears are hearing but our mind is working overtime on the counter-attack. “As soon as he shuts his mouth, I’m going down it with both feet.”
The only way to make the habit work is to concentrate on the word “understand.” You have to understand what the other person is saying: you do NOT have to agree.
One of the many communication courses I took provided me with a statistic: in 40% of disagreement there is merely a difference of understanding and not a difference of opinion.
If you can eliminate 40% of your conflicts merely by listening, then it’s worth giving it a shot.
On the other hand, once you understand someone, you then have proof that they are an idiot and they have probably given you all the ammunition you need to refute their point.
It’s worth going into a conversation with an open mind. However, when listening to things like Fox news, the B. S. piles up faster than I can shovel it off the doorstep.