When someone expresses a view you disagree with, it’s hard to keep your cool and hear them out. To better practice those listening skills and build bridges, focus on the person behind the belief, rather than the belief itself.
As writer Benjamin Mathes explains, other people usually have different experiences than yours which can lead them to a different belief system. When we debate (or, more often, read someone’s opinion online), we have a tendency to assume they come from the same background we do. By paying attention to those differences in how someone came to their beliefs, you can usually find a more understandable reason they believe the way they do:
We must work to hear the person not just the opinion. My friend, Agape, says it like this:
“Hear the Biography, not the ideology. ”
When someone has a point of view we find difficult to understand, disagreeable, or even offensive, we must look to the set of circumstances that person has experienced that resulted in that point of view. Get their story, their biography, and you’ll open up the real possibility of an understanding that transcends disagreement.
Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you will agree. It’s just much easier to have a conversation and empathise with other people when you’re paying attention to who they are and where they come from, rather than arguing against a set of bullet points.
How to Listen When You Disagree [Urban Confessional]