Beyond Reactivity: Building Bridges in the Midst of Differences

These days, it’s hard not to get into an argument without avoiding. Deferring, deflecting, being agreeable and complacent, saying nothing. It sometimes feels as though it’s either that, or reacting by saying or doing something we’ll regret later. Friends, family, co-workers… ourselves – many people are reactive and ready to take offense.

There was a time when this wasn’t true, but that time is long gone for most of us, especially those living in large urban areas. I think part of the blame rests with social media because that easy way of anonymously venting has become so popular. But mostly, I think it’s part of the stress we are all under, wherever we live.

There is a better way to address differences. It doesn’t require hiding our opinions or feelings. Instead what we need is a willingness to hear the other, and to be heard in return.

Easy to say, not so easy to do, I know. If you’re interested in trying the following out, it could be a start to a new approach for you:

  • Say what you believe in non-aggressive terms – that means avoiding name-calling or finger-pointing. It also means focusing only on your feelings and how things are impacting you rather than anyone else;
  • Repeat what the other person says back to them in your own words to make sure you understand what they mean, and to let them know that you are listening to them;
  • Above all, remain genuinely curious. People can tell when you aren’t, just as you can tell when they aren’t.

It’s a beginning to a hopeful way of mending fences and being heard.

If you want to read more on issues around reacting, here’s an earlier blog on the topic.

Quote of the Week

No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it.”

– Albert Einstein

 

How to speak so that people want to listen

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