After a recent run-in (of all things, about a holiday!) my wife and I ended up being upset with one another; she was tearful, and I annoyed. When we did actually get time to sit down and discuss the issue it was clear that a simple misunderstanding had created the argument in the first place.

What one says and what another hears can always be a cause of conflict, but what surprised me most was that the resolution didn’t come from one of us being right and the other wrong, so much as a lack of understanding.

When conflict arises, we’re naturally quite guarded and this can result in annoyance, sadness and even aggression, but what we all really crave more than anything is to be understood. Even if we’re still at disagreement about the subject matter in the end, when we feel another has understood us, it gives us some resolve.

I doubt any world conflict is any different. Taking the time to understand another’s point of view, even if it doesn’t change your own, shows empathy and a desire to hear and be heard. That in itself, I believe, is world peace in action.

There is no question we can all have differing opinions about politics, religion and a whole host of other things and that’s completely fine and normal. But shouting another down never solved nor changed anything.

What can change opinion, however, is understanding. Understanding leads to empathy and empathy, I believe is the root of peace. I know now I want to do more listening in future. It’s a new skill I want to acquire and may take time and training, but like everything worthwhile in life, if peace is the end result, I’m in!

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