Understanding the power of listening when having conversations about race

Emotions are strong right now as the nation comes together to protest racial injustices and the death of George Floyd, bringing on some difficult conversations. But for many, instead of talking, this might be the time to learn how to listen instead of talk. 

When you see a peaceful protest, it's likely the result of good communication. From large groups to a small family, discussing difficult issues takes skill. And while you may feel you have a lot to say -  something we can all practice is learning how to listen. 

"In the skill of communication, listening is a skill set that you have to listen with the desire to understand and not the desire to rebuttal. Sometimes it's not necessary for you to have a rebuttal. Sometimes it's just necessary for you to listen," says Dr. Sabrina Jackson. 

She reminds that understanding somebody else's challenge can only come from listening. 

"There are feelings of rage, there are feelings of anger, there are feelings of hatred as a response to what's been going on ongoingly. And if you have of walking into a space where that's really not your issue, you may not understand," she says. 

Here's a simple trick: before you respond - in any conversation - just take a breath. It's a pause - and force yourself in that time to think and learn. 

"I've been in places and spaces where people say very derogatory things to me but I choose to use it as a learning opportunity rather than an opportunity to attack. And so that's something that you have to do within yourself," she says. 

We have already recognized how people are struggling right now with loneliness, isolation, job loss, health concerns due to the pandemic. And now there's a high level of anger and frustration added on top. 

Dr. Sabrina says to make sure you're focusing on controlling what you can right now, and find comfort somewhere. 

You can watch the full interview with Dr. Sabrina below.