Farah Nasser: Learning to listen is learning to understand

Listening to those you disagree with takes nothing away from you, Farah Nasser says.
Listening to those you disagree with takes nothing away from you, Farah Nasser says. Jeremy Cohn/Global News

We all have “that person.” It could be a co-worker, a neighbour or perhaps a parent at your kid’s school.

You know the one — the one who you roll your eyes about behind their back.

They just don’t get it. They never will.

Let’s be honest. You secretly think you are smarter than them, more evolved, more “woke.”

Bumping into them is the worst. You pretend to be nice or ignore them but either way, usually let out a large exhale in the aftermath.

READ MORE: Six ways to handle difficult people in your life

Now, what would happen if you let go of all that judgment? What if you took a chance and tried to care about them as a person?

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What if you gave that person the benefit of the doubt and looked for some common ground?

It happened to me with a colleague who made my blood boil as I sat across from him in a daily news meeting.

Ideologically, we couldn’t be further apart. The tension made me irritable and annoyed. One day, I was just tired of feeling that way.

I made a conscious effort to replace my cynicism with concern for that individual. It wasn’t easy. I wrote a TEDx talk about it.

It made me realize listening to him took nothing away from me. In fact, it helped me understand the perspective of people who feel the same way as him.

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Right now, understanding each other is critical. We are divided in our social media echo chambers, as a nation, on this continent and across the globe.

READ MORE: Canadians can’t agree on what ‘fake news’ really is, Ipsos poll says

We are quick to make people try to understand our point of view but aren’t lowering our guard to understand them. We are listening to argue instead of listening to understand. We are thinking of our next point while the other person speaks.

What happens in a world where we all think we know better? We get angry. What if listened, really listened? What if, we treated everyone as an expert in their own life instead of telling them why we don’t agree with their perspective?

WATCH BELOW: Farah Nasser on Global’s new web series, Living in Colour

How race and ethnicity impacts people of colour
How race and ethnicity impacts people of colour

Would the world be less quick-tempered? What if we modelled this for our children and changed the next generation?

We value confidence and intelligence when compassion and understanding are what the world needs most.

You won’t always agree with “that person.” That’s just life, but at least you won’t hate them.

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Farah Nasser is anchor of Global News at 5:30 and 6 p.m.

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