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Listening is a valuable strategy

In today’s society, we see people turn against one another over anything and everything. Examples include religion, political preference, gender, favorite artists, favorite sports teams; you name it, someone probably has an opinion about it. At that point, we then turn against one another because not all of us think alike. Each group believes that everyone else needs to think like they do. This leads to arguments over which beliefs are right and wrong.

The reality of this whole perspective is that no single belief is wrong. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, and we need to respect one another’s opinions. Respecting others opinions involves listening. Listening is a powerful tool for living happier in a society that has so many differences. Listening opens the door to a whole new way of thinking. Simply listening to your neighbor allows you to respect how they feel as well as understand why they feel as they do. Listening also allows you to better express your beliefs in return.

The goal of this viewpoint is to persuade The College of Wooster community to listen and not to argue. Listening has allowed me to expand my comfort space, make new friends and live a happier life at such a diverse college.

I would like to share with you my experience in listening and how it has changed my life at The College of Wooster. Near the middle of my first year here at the College, my roommate, a member of the Posse Foundation Scholarship, asked me if I would like to attend the Posse Plus Retreat. He gave me a quick explanation of what it was, and I decided to go. Once I learned the topic of the retreat — if I remember correctly, it was about how we interact with each other using language — I thought to myself, “Great, another way for more people to call me racist and sexist.”

I let this way of thinking dictate how I carried myself during the first night of the retreat. As the first night carried on, I found myself not talking at all. I was listening to what other members of the retreat had to say. I found myself listening for the purpose of making fun of them in my own thoughts, but as I heard more and more experiences being shared, and how those experiences affected them, I began to feel really bad about myself and about why I was there.

Having heard so many people express their opinions, I gained a sense of courage and stepped out of my safe space. I spoke up about my opinions, and to my surprise, I heard many fingers snapping as a gesture of agreement and support.

That whole weekend changed my personality in terms of how shy I was about my opinions. A simple act of listening allowed me to open my mind. Opening my mind and accepting what others had to say allowed me to state a counter opinion, which was then heard and accepted. I was able to feel what my fellow students were feeling, and so I am now able to communicate on a different level with all of them because I feel like I know them personally. I felt as if I had made 50 new friends that weekend.

I strongly encourage The College of Wooster community to listen. Be open to one another and allow yourself to become educated about your fellow students. As members of a community, we owe it to ourselves to become acquainted with each other.

Justin Klupp, a Contributing Writer for the Voice, can be reached for comment at

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