How Can I Stand It? Tools and Tips to Heal Division.
What stands out to me in waiting for Election Results 2020 is the red and blue divide. Watching the counties tally votes, the states consist of islands of blue in seas of red. It causes me to reflect on myself, my neighbor, and our nation. Election 2020? It is time to connect. Why? Using multiple voices and thoughts, we can create new solutions and ideas that are better together. Here is how we can foster connection now to bring us into 2021.
“We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.” ― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
10% Right (from the work of Shirzad Chamine, Positive Intelligence)
Listening to a different point of view can produce feelings and thoughts of, “You’re wrong!”. Imagine that there is 10% that you CAN agree on in the conversation. Look for the agreement and bring it forward to continue the conversation, “Yes, I agree with you on this point, and what about adding to it in this way?” Listening for the 10% is a way to actively want to connect with the other. When finding agreement, we can begin to build new ideas.
“My way/Your way” becomes Something New (from the work of Fred Kaufman, Conscientious Business Coaching)
Fred Kaufman suggests that 50/50 does not work. This is where in disagreement, you give half and the other gives half to create a new whole. You want chocolate and I want lemon. Putting chocolate and lemon together is just gross. Kaufman instead advises parties to define what the goal is first. The goal is to enjoy some time together by sharing dessert. If we both let go of our 1st choice, what is a second choice that we both agree on? Strawberry? If that does not work, go back to the goal to create an entirely new idea. The goal is to enjoy time together by sharing dessert. We can accomplish the first goal of sharing time together by taking a walk. What about changing dessert to a beverage after the walk? The idea of creating something new together is the mindset to accomplish connection.
Steady Self Amidst Disagreement
If you know you are entering a disagreement, take time to prepare your mind and body to show up with calm. An agitated mind is narrow and reactive. Take a few minutes to focus on your goal of connection and respect for the other. Smile. Stretch. Breathe some deep breaths to oxygenate your blood. If you are in the middle of a heated discussion, it can be helpful to remember the goal of connection as a focus to calm down. Use the sense of touch and rub your index finger and thumb together to feel the fingerprints. This focus re-engages the creative centers of your brain and brings you out of fight or flight. Take a break if you need with letting the other know you really care about them as a person and you want to be able to discuss this with a calm and clear head. “Can we continue this conversation this afternoon?”.
Seek First to Understand
Approach the conversation with the intent to understand, not to make the other understand you. The beginning of building connection is a willingness to fully listen to the other. Ask questions. It can help to have the mindset of an anthropologist wishing to learn. It is only when the other feels that they are really heard that you can request the same listening to be offered to you. Maybe a new date needs to be set to do this with fresh ears and an open heart. Do not try to do too much at once. The purpose of connection is to offer respect, compassion, and kindness to a fellow human being.
Remember Your Why
Focus on your goal as you continue the work to connect. The goal of being right or to tell the other your point of view without offering to listen is a recipe for division. The golden rule offers the peaceful steps toward unity. My version of the golden rule is, “Treat others the way you wish to be treated.” I like holding my why’s like jiggling pebbles in my pocket. Compassion. Respect. Love. Creative Solutions. Inventing. Exploring. Deciding a new action from new Information.
There is always more to learn.