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A Holiday Truce through Active Listening

Submitted by Greg Cazzell, Leadership Aurora Class of 2016-2017

“First the Germans would sing one of their carols and then we would sing one of ours, until when we started up ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful’ the Germans immediately joined in singing the same hymn to the Latin words Adeste Fideles. And I thought, well, this is really a most extraordinary thing ­– two nations both singing the same carol in the middle of a war.”

-Graham Williams, Fifth London Rifle Brigade

Taken from an article entitled, The Christmas Truce, by Eric Metaxas, the aforementioned quote, depicts the phenomenal event between two adversaries, who for a brief period, found mutual accordance, despite being on opposite sides of a world war.   While it has been over a century since the Great War and over 70 years since World War II involved the global community, there is much to be extracted from that exceptional occurrence.

In the wake of a contentious election, where salubrity often took a backseat to iniquity, we have all been witness to a clear dichotomy between those who favor and those who do not favor, election results.  From social media diatribes, to ardent and impassioned protests in cities across the country, both sides have made clear their positions.  Unfortunately, in many cases, some actions from both sides have not deviated from the sort of egregious acts demonstrated by the two candidates in the months leading up to the election.  We can all agree that many of these actions are the result of a stout passion tethered in the ideologies behind each viewpoint.  In fact, the vast majority of us are all guilty of reacting to an event or sort, without really allowing our rational side to talk some common sense into us.  So before we get caught up in the myriad of negative rants (or reactions to them), let us take a lesson from history and endorse a period of peace by implementing a skill that we are all capable of.

As members of Leadership Aurora, we have visited various organizations to learn and for greater understanding and by participating in past and future fundraisers we are actively doing our part to support our community.  However beyond the involvement associated with Leadership Aurora, we can begin to disseminate a period of concord similar to the 1914 Christmas Truce through one simple verb: the act of listening.  A recent article published in Forbes Magazine, delineated six ways one can be an effective leader.  While all six forms of listening appropriately apply to the prickly firestorm following the election, I will highlight three that I find particularly beneficial; they are as follows:

  1. Show that you care: You may not share similar views or beliefs with those around you, but when you exhibit a caring nature, regardless of how well you may know someone, conversations become more constructive.   Those around you whether they are employees, friends, or family, need to and should be, treated as people.
  1. Demonstrate empathy: The way that we go about handling events that occur in our lives varies from person to person.  We need to be mindful that there may be other underlying factors contributing to how a person deals with a particular event and how that individual expresses him or herself.  Therefore, it is importance that we as leaders are empathetic to how certain “distractors” impact one’s life.
  1. Don’t judge others: Simply put, one that judges another is not listening.  Oftentimes, we can make harsh criticism about those who differ in their opinions or beliefs.  By judging not only do we lowering our impression of that person, but also, we do not embrace any differences.

And just as the Christmas Truce did not take place on all fronts, it will likely not occur everywhere in our country.  But as leaders of our community, we can start with what lies directly in front of us.  So while singing Christmas carols and engaging in a friendly game of soccer was how the British and Germans exhibited armistice during conflict over a century ago, let our conduit of peace be through productive conversation that utilizes active listening skills.  Together, through this meek act, we as leaders can promote that human yearning for peace, during a period when citizens across our country and throughout our community, could use it most.

Happy Holidays to you all!

 

 

 

For additional reading, please consider the following:

Llopis, Glenn.  6 Ways Effective Listening Can Make You A Better Leader. Forbes; May 20, 2013

Metaxis, Eric. The Christmas Truce:  The Prince of Peace, The Desire of Nations Breakpoint; Dec 24, 2014.

Weintraub, Stanley.  Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce; 2004

 

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