When you want to change someone else’s point of view, it’s easy to assume that if you talk enough, people will listen. Often, that’s not the case, though. In reality, if you want people to come to your side of an issue, it helps to listen to theirs first.
Photo by Tim Pierce
As business blog Harvard Business Review explains, being silent allows the person you’re talking to a chance to explain their position. No one likes getting shouted down, so having this opportunity helps them feel respected as an equal in the conversation, which makes them more receptive. Listening also gives you a chance to see a situation from their perspective. If you can understand how they see things, you can get a better sense of how to appeal to them:
It is easy to fall into the habit of persuasion by argument. But arguing does not change minds — if anything, it makes people more intransigent. Silence is a greatly underestimated source of power. In silence, we can hear not only what is being said but also what is not being said. In silence, it can be easier to reach the truth.
Of course, listening is more than just waiting for your turn to speak. It requires that you understand and accept someone else’s position as valid. However, listening doesn’t mean caving in. It’s good to have your own position. Treating it as the only valid one, however, won’t make you very persuasive.