I have a simple solution to Election Day unrest: stop talking and just listen without ego or judgement. And I mean REALLY listen. Observe and integrate all of the subtleties of your surroundings throughout the day. Then, when you encounter someone wanting to share their views, don’t try to engage in a two-way conversation. The only words you share should be prompts that help the other person keep talking.
Because the point isn’t to make your point. It is, instead, to listen and really hear what the other person is saying. It is giving them enough time to get to the underlying reason behind their sadness, anger, or joy. A head nod for recognition should become your main movement of the day.
I am especially attune to this because today just so happens to be the first Tuesday of November in the United States. A day which marks our Election Day. In addition, every four years on this day the President of the United States is elected.
As you might expect, some Presidential elections are more contentious and divisive than others.
Even worse, some are knock-down, drag out, way far below-the- line battles.
Making it every more stressful? Communities across the United States are growing by leaps and bounds and with that, so do the propositions and ballot measures on which one has to vote. Reading the ballot measures is time consuming and mentally exhausting. It’s almost as though you’ve had to go back to high school and pull an all-nighter studying for that civics teacher who doesn’t grade on a curve.
And this makes even the most understanding of folks grumpy and stressed out which doesn’t leave a lot of room for kindness or mindfulness.
So as I was thinking about the impending Election Day and trying to determine what nugget I wanted to share, I thought about how much people having been talked at, or worse yet, yelled over, all the time. I thought about how no matter how much I disagree with a person it is the sum of their life experiences that brought them to their staunch position, just as my life experiences shaped mine.
The author suggested that when you find yourself talking with someone who doesn’t share your views, you should ask one question: “Will you tell me your story?” then say, “I’d love to know how you came to this point of view.”
No matter how angry or upset the person becomes, you listen. No matter how much you vehemently disagree with their words and opinion, you listen. On this day, it is more important to hear their story and save yours for another time.
So on Election Day, be mindful by practicing the ancient art of ‘ears open, mouth shut’. It is only when stop and listen in order to gain a deeper understanding about those different from us that we will become better as a person and as country.