I love big-idea, free-wheeling, no-rules-no-worries conversations. The kind you have with friends in coffee houses, where you solve all the world’s problems, come up with million-dollar inventions, prove and then disprove the existence of God, and cure cancer.
I spent a lot of time last week doing the opposite–listening intensely, speaking carefully, slowly building bridges. It was good work. It was hard work.
Late in the week, during yet another conversation, I realized that I was speaking quite freely, and commented on it to the person with whom I was speaking.
“That’s because you know I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt,” she said.
Such wisdom in her words.
When we are adversaries, we listen like opposing lawyers waiting to pounce. Everything we hear confirms our fearful beliefs about our opponents.
But when we are friends, we listen differently. When we hear something we don’t understand, we ask for clarification. When we hear something with which we disagree, we say so without rancor.
Conversations are so much easier when we give each other the benefit of the doubt. Conversations are so much easier when we are friends.