Talking Past Each Other

The “talking past each other” problem is a very real one. I don’t think individuals or groups choose to talk past each other. Everyone in his right mind wishes to communicate clearly his frustrations, concerns, and arguments. Yet we are hindered by our inability to see others as image-bearers worthy of speaking into our lives. We think we are listening, but we are already crafting our response as we give the appearance of listening. One way we begin to avoid this problem is by acknowledging that each of us come from a particular context. We are a product of the influences (whether good or bad) of many people in our lives. We all approach life contextually. In many cases, our poor experiences with certain ideologies presented by certain people have closed the doors to the way we think about said ideologies. Two people can hold to similar ideas but the way one articulates it closes the doors of communication, while the other welcomes conversation and dialogue. When we come across people who hold (it appears) diametrically opposite viewpoints, don’t begin by questioning their character or ideology, begin by asking how they got there. Nurture space to hear and share. The people who have most affected my thinking and life were those who allowed me to opine before carefully and meticulously disarming me with kindness and logic. Talking past each other is part of the fall, but perhaps with some grace, we can actually talk and learn from each other.

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