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If you tell me your favorite color is green, should I be offended you’re not wearing an orange shirt? Is your preference for basketball proof of your hate for tennis?

What if I tell you how much I love chicken? Would you be offended that I’m not advocating for fish?

Of course not! It doesn’t make sense for me to force feed my Chicken Parmesan down your throat, even if it is rather tasty.

Yet we’ve all seen what happens when topics shift to concepts that challenge one’s value structure. From topics including politics & religion, to sexual orientation and so on, we see tension on the rise! Various convictions that we identify as being part of can cause emotions to hijack logic and relationships to suffer.

With divisive arguments becoming more pervasive online and in person, what can be done?

As one who’s often been caught in the tug-of-war between different religions, races, and so on, I’ve learned two secrets that diffuse tension when difficult topics arise. You’ll find that you can use them in both personal and professional settings. They work remarkable well as rules of engagement for team meetings, too!

✅ Secret #1:

Check in with your intentions: 👉 Is your goal to connect or convince? 🤔

It’s important to recognize that people are right about their perspective and how they experience life. Arguing to convince rarely, IF EVER, changes perception, but fighting to be right changes the relationship, at times destroying it beyond repair.

✅ Secret #2:

Get curious. The ego will take a break from defending itself at all costs when we are genuinely curious. When we aim to learn how things are for the other person by asking questions. On the flip side, the ego and confidence will be compromised when being “right’ is the overarching goal.

***

I believe that we’re all pieces of the same puzzle. When we seek to understand each other’s viewpoint, especially when we disagree, perspective and insight will shed light on solutions that cannot otherwise be seen. 

In a sense, our arguments about politics or religion or other complicated topics are similar in that each of us can share a piece of a bigger picture to help each of us understand the greater concept.  Our collective ideas are so much more than our own piece of the puzzle alludes to.

Solutions to our greatest challenges within our families, teams and also society, become one of the many casualties in the crossfire of convincing. But you can be part of the solution when you check in with your intentions and then get curious!

Two Secrets to Having Difficult Conversations

September 9, 2020

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