Trying to have a productive conversation about a difficult topic can feel like trying to perform a magic act without a wand. It could work, but either way it would at least be helpful to have the right equipment.
Not having the right tools to navigate difficult conversations can turn an already precarious endeavor into an exercise in consistent frustration.
Listening has the power to shift that. More often than I can count, when I’ve found myself in a conversation that’s going in circles, and then magically things take a turn for the better, the thing shifted involved listening. One of us (and if we’re fortunate, more than one person) started connecting to the words that were actually coming out of someone else’s mouth instead of clinging to our assumptions about what we thought the other person was going to say.
When we choose to breathe, still our racing thoughts, come into this present moment, and pay really close attention to the words another human is speaking, we start to connect-the-dots. Areas of agreement begin to appear, the reasons driving why we disagree start to rise to the surface (and we can start addressing them in ways that build forward momentum), and the immediate choices we need to make become more apparent.
The next time you find yourself in a difficult conversation, try listening. Really listening. And then choose what you want to say next.