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Listen Before You Speak

I sat in on a political science class in college for a few sessions. I wanted to try something different. I was buried (quite happily) in literature, art history, and film, but figured I’d give something brand new a shot.

As it turned out, I hated it. So, I left pretty quickly. But the reasons why I hated it are worth mentioning.

I remember sitting in a room that looked like it popped right out of a movie. You know what I’m talking about–dim lighting, bookcases, dark wooden tables, the smell of old books. The room reminded me of Spanish poetry and I had to quickly remind myself that I was there to talk politics, not love.

I sat in the back that day, quietly observing the interaction of students of all kinds of ideological backgrounds. I heard lots of shouting, lots of insistence that he was right or she was wrong, lots of bold policy statements.

What I didn’t hear was the sound of anyone listening.

What hence happened was that policy arguments fell flat on their faces. Neither side took the time to hear the other, so neither side budged on anything. No one took the time to figure out where a disagreeing party was coming from or why they had come to the conclusion they had. Everyone was far more worried about getting their points in than convincing anyone new to see why their points had value.

To be honest, it was a profound waste of time.

As I talk to regular people every day who work outside the political sphere (almost none of my friends or acquaintances are terribly political), they increasingly can’t stand politics. They hate the finger-pointing, the shouting, the defiant attitudes that cause people to talk without listening.

I can’t really blame them.

So, I invite you to do something a little different. It’s not easy–opinions are heated, passions flare, and sometimes insults roll off the tongue. After all, we’re all human. But turning people off or making those who disagree with you less likely to see your angle helps no one. It solves nothing. And the energy it puts out into the world pretty much stinks.

So, here are some tips I’m keeping in mind as I move forward. I won’t always succeed, but I’m going to try like hell…

Listen before you speak.

Take the time to walk in someone else’s shoes.

Think about what someone else has said and why you have a better solution.

View every conversation as a chance to learn something and teach something.

Remember that we’re all still people.

Acknowledge that people may have a different idea of how to fix things, but many who disagree with you really care about the country too.

If you find common ground, enjoy the moment. Use it to further greater discussion.

And leave personal attacks at the door.

It’s entirely possible to be passionate about who you are and what you stand for without insulting someone or abandoning adulthood. I think it creates a better discussion, better debate, better solutions, and a better world.

Join me if you dare.

Jedediah Bila is co-host of “Outnumbered” on Fox News at 12pm ET. She is an author, columnist, and Fox News Contributor. Follow Jedediah on Twitter @JedediahBila.

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