Common ground

Sometimes when issues are complicated, it is quicker and easier to react and justify our actions than to admit there may be errors and uncertainty.  To admit that we are fearful, shocked.  To admit that we don’t know what the solution is.  To admit that we want a particular outcome for a particular reason.  But the admittance of these things is what connect us to each other.  These are the very things that give us commonality to the person we disagree with. 

And finding common ground is where to begin to work together.

Severing integrity

One of the topics that I train teams and organizations on digs into some very specific ways to use techniques that de-escalate issues and decrease the duration of an issue.  

When I speak on this, I like to show “skills” or “techniques” that increase the duration of an issue, increase intensity, and increase the number of people involved.  These are known to damage or sever relationships when used consistently.  

  • Winning at all costs

  • Displaying anger

  • Demeaning others

  • Retaliating

  • Avoiding

  • Yielding

  • Hiding emotions

  • Self-criticizing

One of the hardest things to do is to hear a perspective that you disagree with at your core.  To acknowledge that even while disagreeing with someone who you may not even like, that they have made a valid point.  To acknowledge that our own experience creates a bias and a blind spot and that makes us angry.  

Injustice should make us angry.  Trading injustices should also make us angry.  We sever integrity and respect when we employ or cheer the very actions we previously lambasted. 

Foundations of Respect

The past couple weeks in the U.S. has seen news filled with divisiveness and hatred from all walks of the political spectrum.  Individual social media posts have reflected much of the same as people have taken positions.   

It is so difficult in highly charged situations to withhold blame and engage in respectful ways.  To not retaliate.  Ideally, those who lead would help model this.  In the absence of such, the onus remains on each person to do so. 

This, in addition to other conversations I’ve had and material I’ve engaged in, prodded me to dig into some of the ways we demonstrate and show respect to others:

  • Listen

  • Encourage

  • Acknowledge

  • Expresses appreciation

  • Honor / enforce confidentiality

This list simply is an initial list, and I am sure you have ideas that can be added here.  None of these enlist agreement with someone else. They all demonstrate curiosity to understand and value of the other person.  These are foundational for communication – especially when we disagree.