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Most people use arguments when they want to convince someone. If you also tend to “explain” yourself and eloquently defend your position, observe in the near future how such conversations really go. One talks and argues and the other listens (at best). Then the roles change and candidate number two describes their position. The first person is back, repeats, executes, reformulates and finds further evidence. Then again number two and so on and so forth.

Have you often seen one of them change their mind or even question it? I did not. Most of the time the points of view even solidify and the path continues to diverge. Above all, such discussions are exhausting. Everyone struggles and fights. They have to constantly find new ways to defend their position while frustration increases for everyone involved. 

On the other hand, what happens when you listen to someone? You understand them better. You learn something about the person. You invest in the relationship. This way, listening only offers advantages if you want to achieve something, right? It’s also easier and more relaxed because you don’t have to do anything initially. Being there, listening up and opening your mind is enough. 

However, the new understanding for your interlocutor could also mean that it is no longer so easy for you to assert your interests ruthlessly, is it not? The more you know, the more you might understand the other person’s needs and views and question your own goals. And then what? 

Then a third way might emerge that takes into account the interests of all those involved. 

Here is a simple example:

A married couple wants to decide on the next holiday destination. He wants to go to the mountains. She wants to go to the sea. Both explain their “why” classically: She is tired after a year of hard work and just wants to relax, lie in a deck chair and read. He needs to exercise after a year at his desk and in his car and wants to let off steam. The two could elaborate eloquently on that, argue about it and in the end one of them moves out and the house, cat and dog are divided by lawyers. 

Alternatively, they could express their wishes and then begin to understand and reflect on each other’s interests. The magic question is: Why is this important for you? What is it about when you want to go to the sea? What is hiking about?

I am sure that a third way can be found on the basis of mutual understanding. How about a wellness hotel in the mountains? He can go hiking or mountain biking during the day. Meanwhile she reads in a deck chair with a wonderful mountain view (he would only disturb her anyway). In the evening, they spend time together in the sauna, have a good meal or have a drink at the hotel bar. That sounds good, doesn’t it? I would join them right away.


Try it out. Just listen. Don’t do anything. Keep your mouth shut. And switch your mind to reception mode. And when your counterpart seems to be finished, wait another moment (count to five). Often your conversational partner continues talking because they used the break to think. 

The great thing, by the way, is that the gift you gave the other person by listening is generally returned to you immediately. Those who listen are also listened to. And that is the basis for many great new ideas that take into account the interests of all parties. 

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