“I give up. You’ve all beaten me into submission.” Katie had just spent about 30 minutes trying to influence her colleagues on an issue she cared about. She had reasoned, pitched, swinging between rational argument and almost foot-stomping monologue. Now she was just exhausted.

We’ve all been there. While we don’t expect to always get our way, we all have two universal motives:

  • To be heard. To have others genuinely listen instead of politely shutting up until I’m finished so that they can (finally) speak. To have them give perhaps the most precious thing they have – their attention.
  • To matter. For others to communicate my value by considering what I have to say. To sit with it. To be curious. To be the opposite of dismissive.

It’s amazing how a person’s tension drops when another can look them in the eye, demonstrate that they’ve been understood, and that their opinion matters.

A lot of the noise around us today comes from this simple fact: people want to be heard and they want to matter – and they often feel like one of those things is missing in interactions. When we can genuinely convey that they’re heard and they matter – even if we don’t agree and even if we can’t give them what they want – we come a long way toward living together well.

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