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Brit Tzedek v'Shalom

Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace


Jewish Coalition Building
led by Cherie Brown


We can keep a dialogue open even when we are listening to someone we strongly disagree with. The key mistake in listening is that we try to shift opinion when we should just be listening. People usually don't change their opinions without first being listened to. Whenever people are spilling nasty, hard to hear things, they are actually just saying, "ouch. I'm hurting."

The goal is to listen. Listening will create the conditions for movement. We cannot always see the effects of the listening right away. People don't often say, "Oh, thank you so much for listening---now I see everything differently". As a result, we don't always recognize the effect we may have had.

People are more receptive to new information after they have been listened to. At first, ask open-ended questions that will allow the other person to do most of the talking. For example, "It's not exactly how I see things but I would like to listen more first about how you see things." Pay attention to your tone as you don't want to increase the person's defensiveness. And then, after listening to them for a while, say something like, "It's good to listen to you and to understand how you see this. Would you also like to know more how I see things?" Think about asking questions that might help the person to think more about the issue. "We don't simply change people's minds, but rather we must change their hearts. And it is the listening to people tell their stories that enables them to change.


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