“Listening is one of the deepest, most profound signs of loving -- listening to yourself and listening to others. Your heart goes out and wraps around them, and God's spirit of loving embraces you both.”
John-Roger, DSS

In any relationship from intimate to working to family there are inevitable conflicts and issues to be worked out. With a consciousness of cooperation and collaboration, conflicts or differences are seen as a natural part of working together to create “a world that works for everyone.”

In our own worlds and for all of us on the planet, “Conflicts” can lead to a synergy that creates better solutions and deeper connection. I saw this working first hand in organizations where I did trainings on dealing with conflict and which was re-named “Inter-personal Problem Solving.” “Conflict” only exists when we oppose each other and try to “win” over the other rather than finding solutions that work for everyone involved.

The fact that conflict can lead to expansion, does not mean that strong emotions are not often present. My observation as a psychologist and consultant, is that that is especially true when rapport has been ruptured by breaches of trust—either large or repeated, or when one or both of the parties does not feel that their voice is being heard.

It is common to take a defensive posture when one perceives strong energy coming towards them in a heated interaction, but unfortunately that is akin to putting up a wall that does not allow for an engagement that can be productive and healing. Some even take the wall building to an extreme with what is termed “stonewalling,” which in a variety of ways, says without words, “I am not open to discussing this/healing this. Your pain is not my concern.” There is evidence that “stonewalling” behaviors can even have physical effects on the receiver of this dysfunctional strategy, further diminishing the chances for productive resolution of differences. (Reference)

So the question becomes, how does one diffuse the emotion that is being directed towards them so that problem solving and new interpersonal behaviors can be discovered? Note that “diffuse” does not mean repress squelch or make wrong.

I was gifted a tool by a very wise and loving partner that works in an almost magical way. In the middle of a discussion where I was expressing my anger and frustration about a situation, he simply said, “I’m listening.” It was the most loving, effective and expansive response that I had ever experienced. I still get chills and teary eyed when I think of that moment.

More importantly, he actually did listen and in a deep way. He didn’t just let me talk. He took in what I was saying. He didn’t make me wrong or discount my concerns, he looked for ways that we could more effectively deal with situation. (Interpersonal problem solving) He expressed his concern for my hurt/disturbance, even though we both knew to take responsibility for our reactions. And there was no more need for anger—I didn’t have to push to get through to him. He welcomed my feedback and experience because he truly wanted more harmonious interactions that served BOTH of us.

While it could be one of the more challenging responses to make to a frustrated or angry partner, the benefits of utilizing this “magical” tool is well worth the effort to practice it if there is truly a desire for intimacy and real relatedness. If one or both people are resistant to opening the door to resolution in this way, there may be a hidden agenda that conflicts with the desire for harmony.

When have you felt truly listened to? When have you been open to truly listening to someone who was upset with you? What was your experience?

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Connie Stomper earned a masters degree and doctorate in education and psychology from Columbia University in New York.
An ordained minister for over 20 years, she graduated from Peace Theological Seminary in Los Angeles with a masters and doctoral degree in Spiritual Science. The research on self and others that Connie did in this extraordinary program became the basis of the workshops, counseling and writings described on the Soul Musings site.

Her commitment to peace on the planet has taken her on journeys to nearly 30 countries around the world, traveling with fellow ministers focusing on individual and world peace. This interest in peace on the planet has motivated her involvement with organizations such as The Institute for Individual and World Peace and The Community Planet Foundation whose training in consciousness of Community and consensus decision-making she co-created.

Dr, Stomper has been a consultant, trainer, college teacher, and curriculum developer in a variety of organizational and academic settings. She has created trainings in areas such as team building, customer service, listening skills, problem solving, and is certified in the Meyers-Briggs personality profile and in dispute resolution.

Based on working with her own health issues, Connie has studied many forms of alternative medicine and counsels in the spiritual opportunities in dealing with health challenges. Having done care-taking with her mother for several years and having experienced a joyful shared death experience when her mom passed into spirit, Connie's counseling counseling and writing also addresses care-taking and end of life process.