Hard conversations. Only a few dare to admit they like them. Why is communication so hard? Because we are all human beings who are so intricately different. We must remember when leading our teams that every person comes from a different background. How we were raised, our families, and the culture we were brought up in all play a big part in our worldview. If we want to pursue unity, we must learn to listen not to only respond, but to learn.

Our culture is struggling to grasp this concept with a “my way or the highway” kind of mindset. You don’t agree with me? Then I’ll block you. I’m afraid that if we continue down this path, it will only lead us further into pride, loneliness, isolation, and bitterness. Have you ever been in a heated disagreement that spiraled to something that had nothing to do with the original conversation? That’s usually the result of listening to respond, rather than listening to learn.

Listening to learn will add value to countless areas in our lives.

• Our family life

• Our friendships

• Our interaction in the world

• Our businesses 

• Our churches

Listening to learn requires being fully engaged in every conversation you have. Especially the hard ones. To be able to disagree and still maintain a healthy and thriving relationship is not only possible, but it is very rewarding. When we engage and listen to what someone else has to say, it will grow us in more ways than one. Here are just a few:

1. We will see a side of that person’s heart we wouldn’t have seen had we shut them down

2. We will learn a different perspective

3. We will be able to find a beautiful middle ground that we CAN agree on

4. We will walk away feeling more confident in our abilities to listen

The last word of advice on how you can listen to learn is before you respond or enter into a conversation you know might be hard, pause and take a moment to let any anger be removed. The worst thing we can do is go into a conversation angry. Pause. Pray. And invite God to lead you in your conversation.

You don’t have to walk on eggshells any longer or fear the next hard conversation with a boss, employee, or relative. You are a powerful person, and remember, words are powerful. So choose them wisely. Lead the conversation in humility, and listen to learn. You might be surprised by what you learn from those with different perspectives than you.

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