Agree to Disagree
“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
As this election year finally comes to an end I believe we can all agree that this has been a very stressful and exhausting process. America has seen many Presidential elections in its 239 years. Why has this election seemed to bring out the worst most polarizing aspects of our society? I believe the answer lies in our apparent inability to resolve conflict in a healthy manner. We cannot control the behaviors of others. We can however control our behaviors and response to conflict. How can we resolve conflict positively and win in our personal lives? Here are three important strategies to help in this journey.
- Active listening– the act of listening and responding to another person that provides mutual understanding.
Active listening means I am prioritizing listening to what the other person is saying. We often believe we are listening when we are simply just waiting for our chance to respond. Active listening requires one to attempt to view a situation from the alternative point of view. Mutual understanding doesn’t necessarily mean I will agree with you. It simply means I hear you and I will consider what you are saying. I often practice this with couples in therapy. The exercise requires the listener to respond to what he or she is being told by their partner by stating, “what I hear you say…” and “that makes me feel…”
- Respecting boundaries
Boundaries are defined as a dividing line or a limit. The idea of boundaries and respect are interrelated. Conflict and disagreement are necessary and inevitable in life in order to facilitate growth. It is important to remember that as we have the right to disagree we do not have the right to go beyond the limit of harming a person verbally, emotionally, or physically. Remember the basic rule we learned as children and we teach our kids, treat people how you want to be treated.
- Stay optimistic
Ultimately we cannot lose sight that we have a future. We can stay stuck in our current disappointments or disappointments from the past or we can choose to move forward with a resolve to make a positive impact. Time does not slow down. Time does not stop. We can waste time with being stuck in bitterness and anger or we can move forward with time and resolve to treat one another better. Whether it is your family, your friends, your co-workers, or our nation, we are all in this together. Will we learn to live together or perish together as fools?
Author Alicia Lurry