The unfortunate truth is that we live in a deeply polarized, partisan, intolerant, and often unempathetic world. The disconnection and self-imposed social distancing that results has had a cascading effect felt from the family unit to the White House. Whether we like it or not though, we we are a part of a collective consciousness that includes all, even those with opposing viewpoints. And thus, to heal wounds that keep us apart, it only takes one person at a time.
This is why it’s important to learn how to communicate with those you don’t agree with, no matter how immoral, unfair, or wrong you perceive them to be. It’s a skill that can take time to cultivate. In this post, we’ll share a few tips that may help you in this pursuit.
Step 1: Find the Space
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” -Victor Frankl
Quick, rash, and unthoughtful reactions are easy to execute, but they usually bring regret in hindsight. This makes it the perfect target for personal improvement.
To find the space between someone’s words or actions and your reaction, you may find it useful to first work on finding space throughout your day. Self-care exercises like conscious breathing, mindfulness, and body awareness can allow you to more easily come back to center when faced with challenges like arguments and disagreements. Once you can find space in your own mind, you’ll be more equipped to tackle finding the space in more uncomfortable situations.
Step 2: Practice Compassion
When having difficult conversations, it’s always important to remember that everyone is doing the best that they can in that moment. If the person you are struggling to find common ground with is close to you, consistently remind yourself of how important they are to you and your love for them. With this realization, you’ll find the tension dissipate. If the person is unfamiliar to you, do your best to relate to them in any way possible. Find the humanity in their life and perspective. If it’s not immediately visible, keep searching and ask questions. It’s there.
Having compassion does not necessarily mean completely letting go of your view or perspective if you feel it hasn’t been properly addressed. But it may take some of the urgency away from the need to feel correct.
Step 3: Forgive
Nobody’s perfect. The most long-lasting relationships are those where both sides can move on and forgive each other for anything. Forgiveness is an act of peace, and a marker of unconditional acceptance.
Step 4: Keep Practicing
Luckily, you have a whole lifetime to do just that! You can only make progress one step at a time. Remember, having meaningful, positive conversations with opposing perspectives is a worthwhile pursuit. We hope that we’ve helped you gain insight into aa skill that can actively make the world a more connected place.