In Poland, we joke that no family gathering is complete without a “discussion” about such topics as religion and politics.
It seems like these two topics are mandatory and no holidays like Christmas can go without discussion that covers both of them.
The quotes weren’t a mistake.
That’s because it’s rarely a discussion.
And every time it happens I wonder why it’s so hard to talk about these topics. Why people get so angry that they start screaming at each other. It goes as far as expressing hatred towards your relatives.
These are mad scenes…
The answer is rather simple. The answer is emotions.
These talks are usually ruled by emotions which means that the topics themselves are heavily emotional to people.
Because religion means - affiliation with a certain group and politics mean - (also) affiliation with a certain group, people feel highly attached to their specific choices.
When their beliefs get compromised people turn into defensive mode. There’s no more taking into account what other people have to say.
There’s only waiting until you can talk and share your point of view.
And when you’re only listening to get to know when you can start talking it means you’re not listening at all.
At this means it’s no more a discussion. It’s two or more people talking to the void and shouting what they think or believe.
If we want to get into topics that are complex and, honestly, hard to talk about we must break away from the emotions that lead these talks.
The problem with listening is that it allows other people to change our minds.
When we listen we crunch the data that others provide and we think through them. We judge, we assess, and we try to fit their words into our worldview.
When we choose not to listen it means that we’re not ready for changing our mind. Worse, it means that we’re not ready to say “I was wrong”.
You see, this goes even deeper.
It means that we cover this fear with emotions.
We’ve learned, one way or another, that it’s wrong to say that we’re wrong.
And the reality couldn’t be further than that!
The most powerful answer to any question is “I don’t know.”
It opens doors and paves the way for further discussion. It makes others explain complex topics so we can understand them from the basics.
It’s the one-and-only starting point for learning things.
Now, the next time you get into such a discussion ask yourself “How do I know?”, “Am I open to such discussion?”, “Am I ready to change my mind?
Ask yourself and ask others if needed.
The outcome might surprise you.
And, most importantly, when you don’t know, just express it. A new world is waiting on the other side.