We all desire to live in a world that is safe and allows us to experience positive relationships at home, at work, and in our community. We want to shop, eat, work and travel without fear. While we all desire this ideal, how do we achieve it?
Too often we diminish others based on their gender, race, political orientation, religion, intelligence, and socioeconomic standing. Technology has provided a vehicle for us to communicate with those we may never see face-to-face. Anonymity has created an environment where harsh, mean-spirited, divisive comments are made cultivating fear, mistrust, and prejudice.
When did we forget to look at others as fellow human beings and instead allowed the thinking of us and them to prevail? Once we see ourselves as better than others, we give ourselves license to treat them in any manner we see fit.
We often say we believe in diversity and being inclusive until and unless you disagree with me. Then we mark our territory and fight to the bitter end to defend it. We stop listening.
How do we support real honest dialogue?
When faced with someone that holds an opposing belief, remind yourself that they are not your enemy – they simply see and experience life differently than you do. The goal is not to convince them that your way is THE way. The likelihood of either party changing their mind on deeply held beliefs is slim, but we can listen to learn. Be curious. Why do they feel, think, and believe the way that they do? What is their story?
When we take a moment to truly listen to another person – with the intent to hear their heart – our posture changes and relationships can flourish.
Where do we begin?
Simply complaining about how uncivil the world is will not solve the problem, in fact, it is likely to escalate it. Each of us must take personal responsibility for our words and our actions. We must ask ourselves, “Are my words and actions adding value or simply creating division?” “Would I want others to treat me as I have treated them?”
My communication has the power to enrage or calm.
- Do I fully listen to people who hold opposing beliefs?
- Do I listen without judgment?
- Do I ask clarifying questions to understand better?
- Do I monitor my tone and word choice?
Every action of mine does impact others – whether I know them or not. What is the ripple effect of my words and actions on those in my family, in my workplace, and in my community? Is it positive? Do I draw others to me or push them away? It is my choice.
Because I listen to you with the intent to understand, does not always mean that I agree with you – as in the case of political issues. We can agree to disagree and still be civil and kind to one another. We can still value each other.
Who goes first?
The better we understand those who we see as ‘different’ from us, the more we will realize we are much more alike than first thought. If I build bridges with a few people, and you build bridges with a few people, together we can make a difference in this global society.
So, who goes first? You do. You be the change you want to see in the world.
©2016 What Would Mrs King Do? If you would like to use this article in your newsletter or blog, you may do so. Please include our credit information: Written by Deborah King, What Would Mrs King Do? © Copyright 2016. I would also appreciate it if you would send us a copy for our files to [email protected]. If you would like to learn more about social skills contact Final Touch Finishing School, Inc.