When we disagree, the most difficult thing to do is listen. Listening stops when we allow the conversation to become emotionally charged.
In our daily lives we know this is true. We have an argument with a spouse, friend or co-worker and we all need to cool off before we can resolve the issue. The longer we hold onto the emotional charging station, the bigger the problem grows. If we don't find a way to listen - to hear their concerns - to recognize their position, the problem just grows and festers. It takes work on both sides. We have to share a desire to reach agreement. We have to want a solution. We have to share a commitment to resolve the issue.
The beginning of resolution is to discover common ground. That takes real work. And often the most important common ground is a shared commitment to resolving the issue. To get to that point, we have to release ourselves from the emotional charging station. Step back. Think. Build a bridge.
I've started to ask people who seem to be on an opposite side of an issue "What's your solution?"
That's not a rhetorical question. I sincerely want to hear. I don't know everything. We don't get great solutions to huge problems with just one perspective. We get the best solutions when a wide spectrum of educated people make a commitment to solve an issue. We get the best solutions when we collect our resources and really work at it.
Let's work toward solutions. Let's find a way to talk to each other that isn't full of emotionally charged one liners like "You Can't fix stupid." That's a door slammer. You CAN fix "stupid" if you are able to intelligently lay out a plan. It might take a bit of thinking and a lot of work but if it makes sense, it will make sense. In my lifetime, people have even been able to fix my "stupid" with a little bit of reason and care. But it had to be solutions oriented and needed to resonate. It needed to recognize my part of the equation. It needed to offer promise of something better.
I'm not willing to throw people under the bus because they are not like me or do not think like me. I've learned the most from those who are different and had an important message. Let's take some time to build.
It's going to take some work on all of our parts to stop poking one another in the eye. It's real thinking that will get us somewhere. It's really hard as we are bombarded with "gotcha" one liners that are tempting to smack one another with - or to use as a 2x4 we want to smack someone with. Has smacking someone with a 2x4 ever solved anything? It's hard work to quit venting and actually focus on resolution. It can be much easier to vent and draw lines in the sand.
One strategy I'm trying is to truly ask "What's your solution?" I need to hear. I need to listen. I'm trying to watch more Ted Talks with people who are actually doing real things to solve world problems. I'm always looking for resources that are examples of solving issues. I want to think differently - engage differently - create real solutions. Let's try. It's hard work but I believe it's worth it.