Talking To People You Disagree With

It is truly a special thing to be able to gather around a table with family and loved ones. It can also be extremely challenging, especially if there are varying viewpoints and perspectives. We’ve all likely had moments where cutting through the tension felt a bit like trying to cut through a stale dinner roll.

To aid in these moments, follow these tips for talking about, and across, differences.

Actively listen – It might seem straightforward, but there is a reason we have two ears and one mouth. Each of us has a unique story and perspective on life. Listening allows us to meet someone where they are. (Expert tip: try listening to others’ whole response BEFORE starting to think about what you are going to say next. This ensures your full attention is devoted to listening, rather than split between listening and thinking about what your next point might be).

Have humility – Be open and understand that we are all growing and learning everyday. Don’t forget to extend a little grace to yourself and to others.

Build Bridges Not Walls – When we take things personally, or shut down in conversations, we create walls. These walls often preclude our ability to create shared visions and progress. Instead of building or reinforcing walls, consider flattening them into bridges. Ask yourself: How can we find common ground? What would it look like to center others while accomplishing our objectives?

Get Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable – This one will not be easy. However, we can lean into the discomfort by remaining present. Try to understand the other perspective prior to sharing yours. Take it in fully, practice that active listening from above, and see how taking in another perspective can integrate into your viewpoint.

Explore Context – Taking the time to understand the context and background of those we interact with is essential. In doing so, you are provided a better idea as to where others’ perspectives are coming from and can gauge if a conversation is appropriate, as well as how to navigate it.

In an increasingly multicultural world, conversations about, and across, differences are a necessity. By embracing those we disagree with, it provides the opportunity to truly understand the complex issues and solutions we need to thrive as a society. OR, to make the holidays a bit easier.