i believe in listening

Natasha - Santa MOnica, California
Entered on June 17, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
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I believe in listening

I believe in listening. It leads to the meaningful kind of communication that all living beings need. We need it for our every day lives, extraordinary events and colossal and ancient international interactions. I believe that when this basic action is compromised by not listening we make our most costly mistakes.

Listening is an important part of communication. Exchanging ideas, and growing on each others feedback is KEY to productive communication. You can’t persuade some one you don’t understand, and you can’t learn from what you aren’t exposed to.

While in Washington DC doing a Young Jewish Politician’s program I met a girl who had been taught that the Muslim extremists who traded rockets and lives with Israeli forces weren’t even human. She was disgusted at my point that we are all human and that they, like her, only knew the hate they had been taught. She refused to listen to me until I had listened to her story through. Then we went through our points of view slowly came to agreements and respectfully agreed to disagree on some points. The important part though was that I had come to understand about her cousin that had been killed in the Israeli forces, and she had begun to let go of her hate. I reminded her that the people on the other side were feeling the same way she did. Communication like this diminishes hate, and willful misunderstanding—and is only made possible by listening.

Further, in everyday life listening is just important. There is nothing like knowing that your best friend listens to you. My friend and I had a conversation about the weird Mexican Candy her choir teacher ate and how she was curious about it. A few months later I sent some to her in a care package for her camp. I had just come back from camp myself and I knew how homesick you can get out there even with all your news friends. When she got back she told me how much that candy had meant to her. It wasn’t just a thoughtless gift from home but rather a gift that reminded her of the friendship we shared—a friendship that could pull old and insignificant memories that make all the difference. These sorts of moments are only made possible by listening.

We all have different view points and when we combine them peacefully we can come up with smart solutions, ideas that build on the strengths of multiple points of view. Also just listening helps deepen and improve relationships with those around us. Whether its between friends, rivals, or even counties listening is essential for healthy relationships. We have much to learn from each other and often feel the most satisfied when we are understood and understand other people in turn.