I was recently part of a group conversation in which someone’s feelings were hurt. No one intended to say anything hurtful. We were all expressing our opinions on various current events. But in the process there was far too little listening and far too much certainty. Sometimes feelings are the result of cumulative experiences. Still, it was a great reminder to me of the importance of listening, of letting go of the need to be right and seeking to understand an opinion different from one’s own. Even knowing that this is the path to peacemaking doesn’t make it come automatically. We still have to work at honing the skills of awareness, curiosity, understanding and listening.
I am sorry we couldn’t see that at the time and that our words, actions and inactions hurt a friend we all admire and respect. I share this experience because unfortunately it is far too common an occurrence and we could all use a reminder and a little practice. How much more valuable it would have been had we said, “Tell me more about that” instead of “I think…” I will make sure we talk about how to learn from our mistakes and grow in our relationships with each other. And I encourage you to use our experience as a moment of awareness and a potential to learn and grow in your own life. There is a communication practice group starting at JRPC sometime in January. It might mean not knowing all the answers. But I am sure we have much to teach each other. Contact me if you are interested in participating. When we make an earnest effort to listen and consider how our words, actions, and even our moods affect others, we are spreading peace…Betsy