Monday, October 31, 2016

Explore the feelings, too

I keep hearing about people who have ruptured relationships with family and friends over this year's presidential election. Obviously, there are many things over which we can experience conflict. But this election process has been especially pernicious.

So when I read last week in my copy of Thomas F. Crum's The Magic of Conflict, I found some helpful insights: "In creatively resolving those everyday fights at home or in the office, the willingness to understand the other side is essential. ... As long as we are involved at the level of the issue, we never understand the other side. ... Being willing to understand is your chance to embrace all aspects of a conflict, not just the positions, but also the feelings, the beliefs, and the interests that both sides have."

That makes so much sense to me. Our deeply held beliefs are so complex—and are about far more than the issue itself. They stem from feelings and interests and much more. So it's helpful if we can really listen deeply to another as they explain what it means to them to have taken the position they hold. And we need to fully examine our own position and be able to explore the many pieces that underlie that, too. If we can have respectful conversation around all those additional facets, perhaps we can actually hope to find common ground. After all, we are complex human beings. It follows that our positions and beliefs grow out of that complexity. Let's take the time to drill down and honor each other enough to learn what's under the positions of others as well as our own beliefs.

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