It’s great that you live a healthy lifestyle, are passionate about your beliefs, and are committed to your causes, but that doesn’t mean everyone has to agree with you. Believe me, no one’s trying to pass judgment; quite to the contrary. Unlike multiple-choice tests, in life there may be two right answers to the same question. Should your viewpoint matter more than mine?
Folks know what’s right for them. They have strong beliefs and are passionate about their values, too. Most people don’t mind when others ask them to follow their lead every once in a while, but forcing their viewpoint on folks makes everyone feel uncomfortable.
If someone chooses to live a certain way, and it doesn’t infringe on anyone’s freedom, it’s their choice to make.
My Way or the Highway
A true friend is one who respects a friend for who he or she is . . . not just if that friend shares the same viewpoints. Sometimes, however, it’s not that simple –– especially when one’s beliefs and values encroach on another’s freedom. Rather than striving to seek compromise, it seems that the new standard of discourse is “My way or the highway.” This shortsighted and ultimately destructive attitude is a “lose-lose” for everyone.
The fact is, we live in a world that’s getting smaller every day. We can’t expect others to abandon their values any more than we would forsake our own. It’s important to be tolerant of other people’s cultures and values, recognizing that no one has the right to force his or her way of life on anyone else.
Building Bridges . . .
This does not mean that people should abandon their beliefs. This process, however, must be civil and respectful of others’ views.
Here are 10 considerations to promote an amicable discussion:
- When a disagreement arises, all discussion should focus on the merits of each position, without denigration of others. There’s no need to either disparage anyone or resort to personal attacks.
- Timely and accurate information is an important ingredient of successful debate. As Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.”
- Many “battles” don’t have winners and losers –– there are just losers. Don’t look for ways to back an opponent into a corner. Instead, find ways to let each side save face.
- Take the high ground. Remain open-minded. Look for common ground. Identify ways to compromise and find win-win opportunities.
- Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Try to find the merit in each other’s arguments.
- Communication is a two-way street. It requires more than talking. Remember, there’s a difference between listening and hearing.
- Although it may take longer, it’s better to achieve buy-in than to be overpowering in order to achieve a short-term gain.
- Present both sides of an argument to ensure that you’re objective and fair.
- Relationships prosper when everyone benefits. Prepare to concede short-term wins to secure long-term gains. Ensure that actions lead to mutual gains.
- Never dance in the end zone when you score points. It’ll only damage the process going forward.
Be Prepared to Heal Thyself
It’s important to build relationships on what unites us rather than what divides us. We should abandon any practice that pits us against one another.
I long for a day when leaders bring us together rather than divide us; when people strive to better themselves rather than trying to change others; when fairness and tolerance replace weapons disguised as words; when we measure success not by what people accumulate in life, but by what they’re able to give back. And when win-win relationships define success, rather than winning at all costs.
Before we can make this a reality, keep in mind the wisdom of Bill Bluestein, the corporate executive, who said, “Before you try to change others, remember how hard it is to change yourself.” But that’s my viewpoint.
Should Your Viewpoint Matter More than Mine?
Please leave a comment and tell us what you think or share it with someone who can benefit from the information.
You’re Entitled to My Opinion
Groupthink: What Makes You Think Others Know Better?
The Benefits of Being Open-Minded
This Discussion Has No Room for Debate
Take The Shoe-On-The-Other-Foot Test
Compromise: Redefining Winning
A Game Plan to Encourage Greater Civility
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Lisa Sicard says
Hi Frank, this is getting tougher by the day in this country sadly. Some people will not even speak with you if they know your beliefs. But when you can discuss these things with others it can be a great conversation as I’ve had with a few friends. Thanks for your tips on this matter!
Frank Sonnenberg says
Thank you Lisa. I’m glad you like it.
There are a lot of good and decent people in this world who have much in common. They wake up every morning as proud parents and spouses. They build great businesses, give back to their communities, and assist those in need. They want to lead purposeful lives, provide for their families, and assure better lives for their children. It’s important to build relationships on what unites us, not fight over what divides us. We should abandon the hateful rhetoric, expose our counterfeit leaders, desert our malicious role models, and reject the disgusting greed and envy that pits us against one another.
That may be easier said than done. I just wish we would try 🙂
Thanks for taking the time to write.