When Captain America Civil War teaches you a life lesson

Who would ever think that you could learn one of the oldest life lessons from a superhero movie?

Well you can.

On the surface Captain America Civil War is about two guys who used to be friend. They then reach a point where they can’t agree on the way forward. Queue epic fight scenes……

But if you look a little deeper you’ll see something interesting.

Why have these two become enemies?

On the one side, Tony Stark feels guilty about all the lives that have been lost and the damage that has been done. On the other side, Captain America wants to help his childhood friend and believes that every thing they did was for the greater good.

Who is right…?

They both are.

That’s what makes it so interesting.

Based on their life experiences, each man believes what he is doing, is the right thing.

Isn’t that the case with most of us as well?

We are always just trying to do the best we can with what we know. What we need to start realising is that other people are exactly the same. They are also just trying their best with what they know……

So if everyone is trying to do the right thing, why do we have so much conflict and disagreement in the world?

This is where 2 books, that have stood the test of time, come in. “How to make friends and influence people” by Dale Carnegie, first published in 1936 and “The 7 Habits of highly effective people” by Stephen Covey, published in 1989. Collectively these 2 books have sold more than 50 million copies and both teach essentially the same principle.

Stephen Covey has it as his 5th habit: “Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood” and Dale Carnegie covers it in his principle: “Become genuinely interested in other people”.

How does this work?

If you went to the optometrist to get your eyes tested. Sat on his chair, ready to do the test, and the first thing he did was to take off his glasses and say “Here you go, these work fine for me so they should work for you as well.” Would you listen to him?


So why do we all do this each and every single day?

We don’t truly listen to people and try to understand what they are saying. We are too preoccupied with what we are going to say back or how we are going to prove that we are right. We are listening to respond, not to understand.

If you want someone to listen to your point of view, you must first understand theirs.

I heard a great quote a while ago: “In order to have influence, you must first be influenced.”

Luckily, Carnegie and Covey gave us some pointers on how to do this:.

There are 4 levels of listening:

1) Ignoring (I don’t care what you are saying I’m going to look at my phone);

2) Pretending to listen (I’m going to pretend to listen, but really I’m thinking about what I’m going to say next);

3) Attentive listening (I’m listening, but I’m still right);

4) Empathic listening (I really want to understand why you are doing and saying this).

With empathic listening you aren’t just trying to hold a conversation or defending your own point, you are really listening to someone. This satisfies one of their most basic human needs. To be understood.

We all want to feel that people are interested in what we have to say and that we matter.

The default response for most of us is to respond to a conversation with one of the following.

We will either:

1) Evaluate (agree or disagree);

2) Probe (ask questions from our own frame of reference);

3) Advise (give counsel based on our own experience);

4) Interpret (explain people’s actions based on our own motivations).

These are all based on you and don’t take the other person into consideration at all.

Even if you know that you are right, first listen to the other person and try understand their point of view. At the very least, you’ll be able to explain your point to them a little better, you might even convince them of it. You’ll also gain another perspective and have a better understanding afterwards.

I’ve been trying this the last few weeks and it’s harder than you might think. We all default to “What am I going to say next?” or “Oh, I should tell them that story that happened to me”. While you are thinking about that, you aren’t really listening to the other person and they will realise it.

How do you think that makes them feel? How would it will make you feel?

It’s happened to all of us, the other person “Ahu’s” and “Yesses” at all the right spots, but you can see they aren’t hearing anything you are saying. You just feel like turning around and walking away.

Don’t be that guy (or girl). Be the one that really listens and makes them feel special. The one that hears what they are saying and understands why they are saying it.

If Captain America and Tony Stark tried to do this, we might not have had such an awesome Avengers movie……

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