Let’s all take a giant unison deep breath. Inhale…. anddd exhalleeeee… good.
If all this talk about gun access controversies, walk outs, walk ups, people using social media to say “I told you so”, etc., has got you thinking, what kind of a difference can I make? I would like to take this opportunity to talk about this.
As discussed in my post from last week, (True Connection), it can be hard to fight the temptation to use social media and other platforms as a speakerphone for your ideas, thoughts, and beliefs on highly controversial subjects. Another thing I have been posting lately are snippets of quotes and information from Brené Brown’s book, Braving the Wilderness. She describes the Wilderness as uncharted territory between highly popular beliefs, standing up for what’s right even when it’s not the majority, and finding love and belonging in being by yourself, in the wilderness. Gun control is one of those many “wilderness” topics. You are either for gun control or you’re not. You’re either gluten free or your not. You’re either pro-life or your not. There begins to develop a scary “us vs. them” attitude. And realistically, the “you’re with us or against us” movement ISN’T WORKING OUT SO FAR.
So I am here to offer some alternatives for confrontation, as taken from my own background as well as research by Bréne Brown and her interviews with Dr. Michelle Buck. Dr. Buck is a clinical professor of leadership at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. My hope is for people to pledge to adopt these conflict management techniques to make for a more understanding, open, and loving environment. That way, when someone begins talking to you about controversial topics, they know that you “fight fair”, and are seeking to understand the other person’s perspective in order to find some shared understanding, even if, ultimately, you do not agree.
Be Curious: Find out everything you can from the other person. Including why this topic means so much to them. There is always a lot more to the story than what is presented. Seek to find out the intention behind their argument, this is the simplest and most meaning-making part of the story.
Stay in the present: Instead of using past horrific experiences, outliers and anecdotes, stay focused on where you would like the issue to move in the future. What change are you hoping to bring?
Listen to understand: So many people wait for their turn to talk. They aren’t really listening to you, they are just preparing their statements. In order to create yourself as a safe space, listen to others in order to understand their perspective. Instead of saying, “Well I think blah blah blah”, say, “Tell me more”.
Overcome the divide: Overcome the divide by not letting other people’s perspectives effect your relationship with them. You can still respect and honor someone and call them a friend even though they don’t share the same values.
I would say that is the most important step, overcome the divide. Instead of surrounding yourself with like minded people, creating a vacuum (and my husband always says, “We do not make decisions in a vacuum”), seek out alternative theories and ideas. Surround yourself with people who think differently, seek to understand their perspective and their ideas, because even if they don’t agree with your own, they are still important and they are still worthwhile.
Thanks for reading!
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