I firmly believe that in today’s world, the act of listening is lost. We are wrapped up in proving ourselves right. We are consumed with hubris and driven by our own emotions. I try to really listen to what people are saying other than listening only so that I can speak next. Though, this doesn’t always happen.
The Principle of Charity
One of the concepts I learned while studying philosophy was the principle of charity. Essentially the idea requires interpreting a speaker’s statements in the most rational way possible and, in the case of any argument, considering its best, strongest possible interpretation. At its core, the goal of this methodological principle is to avoid attributing irrationality, fallacies or falsehoods to the others’ statements, when a coherent, rational interpretation of the statements is available.
In terms of communication, it requires us to also remove ourselves from the snap judgments of I’m right and they’re wrong. It requires us to restrain ourselves and look at the other person’s perspective– to understand that we are all people of equal worth and maybe (even if we might disagree) we might have something worthwhile to say.
Beyond that, when in an argument or heated debate where someones emotions might be high and they are not necessarily making the most articulate points, it requires us to understand that they too might be well-educated and try to work out what they are saying
While the point can be made that it isn’t our responsibility to workout what someone else is trying to say, I’d say it makes us stronger. Who knows, we might actually learn something about ourselves. So next time you find yourself in a heated argument or at odds with someone else’s perspective. Try the principle of charity, see what happens