Finding Common Ground
“Out beyond the ideas of right and wrong there is a field. I will meet you there.” ~Rumi
Just as in your personal life, in your professional life it’s common that you come across someone who you experience difficulties getting along and working with. Maybe they share opposing beliefs with you religiously, professionally, or politically that seem to stand in the way of working together and finding common ground. However, understanding how to get along with people whose beliefs differ from your own is key to your success and overall satisfaction.
Studies show that there are two ways that individuals interact socially with others when their beliefs differ. Disagreement is the extent to which you are exposed to people with whom you come out on opposite sides of issues and maintain your opposing side. You are the outlier compared to them. Diversity, by contrast, is the extent to which you allow there to be a variety of opinions expressed and respected.
Keeping these two ideas in mind when you find yourself interacting with an individual whose opinions differ from yours may help you to think clearly and maintain your cool. Additionally, here are 5 expert tips that could help you in difficult social situations where opposing beliefs and dissenting opinions are in play.
- Listen to the other side with an open mind. Diversity of opinions means just that. Recognizing that you can learn from each other is a sign of a healthy and respectful relationship.
- Keep your cool even when the conversation gets hot. Being able to appreciate diversity means that you don’t go off the deep end when someone expresses a dissenting opinion. If you let your emotions get in the way of your logic, you’ll not only lose the argument, but also further contribute to animosity.
- Try to find common ground on which you can agree. It may seem impossible at the time to acknowledge the validity of someone else’s argument, but mature adults should be able to appreciate the gray between the black and white of your viewpoints.
- Avoid personal insults. It probably goes without saying that you should keep your communication respectful. There’s no reason to start assaulting someone else’s personal qualities because you happen to have differing views.
Reinforce the positive feelings you have toward each other, despite your differences. If you look hard enough you’ll find “good” in most people. Reminding yourself of the positive will help you through negative situations and conversations. Continuing to maintain an air of openness and mutual respect will allow you to survive the changing environme