Deep Listening is Miraculous

By Abrahim Harb 

Disrespectful dissent has shown its failure too many times in human history, and its societal continuance would be disrespect to the progress of humanity. Respect does not only refer to one’s esteem for his or her counterpart; it also regards esteem for one’s self and both parties’ mutual cause. With all of this being said, if both sides of the arguments were empathetic listeners, it would improve the mutual understanding and trust between both parties. The best way to clearly hear and understand the true motivation behind the counterargument is to be an active listener and it is also a crucial skill for the third party involved to fully interpret both speaker's message(s).

If a third party cannot provide an appropriate response then the listening process is broken. The negotiation between the first and second party is compromised and the mediator may find themselves under negative crossfire for construing that specific persons reasoning.

When all parties are actively listening builds a mutual respect and trust between all parties involved, it reduces tension, and enables the parties to release their emotions in a positive way. Yet, at the same time it creates a safe and understanding environment to come to a collaborative solution. “Though useful for everyone involved in a conflict, the ability and willingness to listen with empathy is often what sets the mediator apart from others involved in the conflict” (Salem). Even after the problem is solved, the listening process, if done properly can have a profound impact on all the parties involved. This can even make somebody hell-bent set in their ways begin to see the other parties argument, and could even change their mindset completely around. Richard Salem is exemplifying this point in the following scenario:
The construction of a highway that would physically divide a community centered on a public housing project. After weeks of protest activity, the parties agreed to mediation. In the end, the public officials prevailed and the aggrieved community got little relief. When the final session ended, the leader of the community organization bolted across the floor, clasped the mediator's hand and thanked him for being "different from the others." "How was I different?" Chace asked. "You listened," was the reply. "You were the only one who cared about what we were saying” (Salem).
He demonstrates how, in this particular situation that the mediator between the two parties was impartial and did not side with either side. He simply listened and was successful at alleviating the indifference between the public officials and the community organization. It could be assumed, that Salem had no affiliation with the government officials nor did he live in the community or have friends/ family residing within the community. This allowed him to have a upper hand because he had no personal connection, leaving him as a stranger out in the cold amongst these public officials and citizens who were in the middle of a debacle. Salem not only showed extremely biased judgment.

In most situations, whether it is in a mannerly form, or it is in a impromptu situation; a outside entity should be brought in, which is not always the case. Empathy is another key essential, and the ability to project oneself into the shoes of others. This allows the mediator to better understand both parties’ feelings. As Salem says the mediators mentality must strictly adhere to the following, “I understand your problem and how you feel about it, I am understanding in what you are saying and I am not judged you.” Also, the body language that is conveyed by all three parties must be positive regardless of what goes on, especially the mediator. If they seem bored, unconvinced it could lead to a questioning in their jurisdiction.

Empathetic skills cannot be per say taught as a academic subject, it can however be acquired through spending endless hours reading and writing, along with the various speech and communication classes one can take and become a valuable asset to the public speaking sector of society. Nevertheless one can be born with that natural talent to listen, and interpret a situation. This skill must be constantly maintained, if it is left out in the sun, it could burn. By being attentive and staying constantly interested, stimulating your brain. Create a warm atmosphere through nonverbal behaviors such as posture, there facial expressions, and there body language in general, which must be inviting.

Works Cited:

Salem, Richard. "Empathetic Listening. " Beyond Intractability - More Constructive Approaches to Destructive Conflict. July 2003. Web. 28 Apr. 2010.