How can we be better prepared to participate with civility in a public meeting? What’s one of the key skills?
I’m psychologist Dr. Dennis White with your mental health minute.
The civility Project of Appleton is responsible for these words of wisdom. Be prepared. Be mentally and physically ready to listen.
Prep yourself by reading appropriate material and doing research before meetings. Don’t show up only to find yourself lost after the first five minutes, and then scramble mentally to catch up – or just zone out.
Be quiet. Clearly, you’re a far more effective listener when you’re not talking. Sure, it’s important to speak up, but remaining silent the majority of the time can make what you do say more notable.
Focus. Make sure whoever’s speaking feels you are really listening. Focus on what people are saying, and don’t let yourself get stuck on any one point.
Don’t try to answer your question in your own mind while the person is still speaking.
Likewise, conquer your own defensiveness. If someone says something that sets you off, let it go. Move on, and continue to listen to what he’s saying.
This is a challenge to the most mature among us. Being able to mentally process criticism openly and maturely is one of the best moves you’ll ever make. Remember the song “Walk a mile in my shoes”?
You may absolutely despise the person you are speaking with, but to be a good listener, you must always listen with empathy. It’s easy to let your mind chew on a point of disagreement if you hear something that bothers you.
Try to see the world through the speaker’s eyes. For more information on civility visit www.doorcountycivilityproject.com.
Until next time this has been Dr. Dennis White with your mental health minute.
Dr Dennis White
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