Common Ground

Photo by  Heather Mount  on  Unsplash

The holiday season is here. Many of us will soon be sitting around tables, breaking bread with friends and family which in this current political climate can feel like navigating minefields. Discourse can be dangerous.

I experienced it acutely back during the Charlottesville protests. Watching the men and women chanting, carrying torches was something out of my nightmares. Having it unfold in real time was horrifying and to say I was emotional would’ve been an understatement. I’d expected *my people* would feel exactly as I did. Watching the footage, scanning their faces for reaction and determining that they were not as upset as me left me nonplussed, raw and reactive.

The gift of time and hindsight allows me to see how poorly I navigated the experience. They were each having their own unique experience and I missed out on the opportunity to hear what was happening for them. I was not listening. Only blasting my opinions and feelings. I made it personal.

My leadership training introduced conflict resolution. We used The Anatomy of Peace as a guide to learn how to have challenging conversations. It showed us how to engage in our connection and commonality before ever trying to reach agreement. Agreement is impossible when we are locked into our opposing positions.

One of the reasons it is so hard to disagree productively is because we become attached to our ideas. We start to believe that we own them and that by extension, they own us.
— Julia Dhar

When we know better we do better. We are all in this together so here’s to leaning in, getting curious, listening to hear one another.