Walking away doesn't solve anything and is really infuriating

How to Lose Friends and Infuriate People 2/3

Continued from the previous article

That is actually what is happening – we are losing friends and infuriating people once close to us. That’s our current reality, and I’ve noticed there are patterns, three behaviors people are demonstrating without realizing they are losing friends as a result. (If they even care. That would be truly sad.)

But the reason that we’re losing each other, the reason we’re disconnecting, is because we are infuriating each other. The original title was how to lose friends and piss people off because we are really annoying each other right now. And of course, I’m not talking about absolutely everybody. There are exceptions, of course, but across the board, there is so much bad news. There is so much anger and yelling and shouting, or just sheer walking away.

Walking away doesn't solve anything. It's infuriating.

It’s pointless. There are no conversations happening right now. That’s an exaggeration; there are very, very few conversations happening. There’s yelling and screaming from a soap box and I’m saddened that people are not open to hearing anything else. So, what are these three behaviors that I’ve noticed on how people are losing their friends and infuriating other people? 

Well, the first thing is that we stop listening. If you choose to actually stop listening to anything, then you’re going to lose friends. You’re going to infuriate people. And of course, there’s a big difference between listening and hearing. This is a big theme in my life. It’s something that I’ve been sharing all along. I just recently spoke to George Marriner Maull. It’s something that he taught me when I was a teenager; hearing is not the same as listening. Hearing means that there is sound going into your ears, and that there’s something going on. Listening means you now take that sound and internalize it.

There is a difference between hearing and listening

You’ll actually create thoughts of some kind. Maybe even if you’re lucky, goosebumps, but that’s neither here nor there. The point is that there is a difference between hearing something and actually listening. So when you’re talking, you cannot hear; you can’t even hear somebody else’s perspective when you’re talking, too. 

There’s a lot of news right now. I’m watching interviews, news programs, all that kind of stuff, with a huge amount of delays going on: communication delays, technological delays. And often, the hosts are talking over their guests. They can’t hear each other. How can anyone respond? It’s so frustrating to see that.

Yes, I’m going to use a cliche here, okay? Because all cliches are born in truth. And this one is so true. It’s unbelievable. You do have two ears and one mouth. Therefore, you should be listening twice as much as you talk. That’s hard to do. It’s really very hard to do. So when you’re talking, you cannot hear and you stop listening. But when you just hear something, as opposed to listening, you cannot be empathetic. Now, let’s get this clear about empathy. We’re not talking about sympathy, which is when you actually can identify with the same experience. You’ve had a very similar experience, and you can identify with that. You’ve been through it yourself. Empathy is a little different. It means that you can appreciate what the other person might be going through. That does not mean you have to agree with them. Empathy does not mean agreement. Empathy means understanding.

You understand the other person’s perspective, whether or not you agree or disagree with it. But if you’re just hearing noise, if you’re just hearing somebody talking, and not listening, you’re not internalizing it. You’re not thinking about it. You cannot be empathetic. Therefore, you have to be perfectly honest. If you are not willing to understand the perspective of the other person, then you’ve got no right to share your opinion. You’ve got no right to share your perspective or your judgment. Empathy is absolutely essential to any comprehensive sane, normal human discourse. 

What can you do?

If you have stopped listening, if you do find yourself in a situation where you’re not listening or other people are not listening, then what can you do? Well, obviously listen, internalize, think about it. But the way you can do this physically is to start deliberately asking more questions; keep asking questions. After a while, you may find yourself just hearing noise again, as opposed to listening. There’s a lot, but it’s the best way to actually avoid losing friends. Ask them questions and let them respond. Listen, internalize. Think about what they’re saying and then find that empathy. 

So that’s the first thing. The second thing that I’ve noticed as to how people lose friends and infuriate people is because they believe they’re right. Well, of course, Stephen, what do you expect? Well, here’s the issue with believing that you’re right. And again, this does hark back to the “Righteous Mind” (Jonathan Haidt). You may not be right, there is always a possibility that for somebody, somewhere on the planet, what you’re saying is not actually helpful. What I recommend is that you believe that you could be right. It’s not necessarily a fact. And we’ve seen things in opinions and perspectives change over time. If you met somebody today who absolutely insisted that the world is flat,  you’d call them out.

You’d think, where have they been for the last 500 years? Well, they haven’t lived for 500 years, and neither have you. But, if you come across somebody who’s absolutely convinced the world is flat, that there are edges, that we go so far and then it just drops off, that it is not a continuous circle or a globe, you wouldn’t get upset. You’d just stop listening. But they’re convinced that they’re right. What if you actually think that you could be right, that the world is flat? Well, then you’re open to looking at other perspectives, other opinions that may suggest it’s not flat.

Read more in part 3, coming soon.