When having a conversation with someone who has a different opinion than yours on a topic, what do you tend to do?
Or ask them questions to learn why?
The most knowledgeable, astute people I know are curious and open-minded. Rather than ignoring or arguing with those who hold different views, they aim to learn from others.
What can we gain by being inquisitive and receptive?
In a Psychology Today article, Warren Berger, who was researching the power of questioning, learned that asking thoughtful, curious questions of other people builds rapport and trust – even when they have very different views and opinions than ours.
Understanding different perspectives also broadens our own perspective and enriches our knowledge.
We can all benefit from this approach. Every person we meet has something to teach us.
Shaped by our own life experiences, each of us sees the world from a different perspective. Another person’s point of view is not necessarily right. Or wrong. It’s simply their own perspective.
So rather than trying to impose our beliefs on another person or belittling their feelings about an issue, asking questions and listening open-mindedly to their responses can broaden our understanding.
As well, seeing issues from others’ perspectives enables us to solve problems with solutions that work for more of us.
When discussing topics with others whose views are different than ours, judgment-free questions like the following can help us gain greater insight.
That’s interesting; can tell me more about why you feel that way?
Help me understand – can you explain what you mean by that?
Instead of creating resentment and division, by respecting our differences we can gain knowledge, clarity and trust.
And aren’t these good for all of us?