Arguing, yelling, and being righteous doesn't help. Calling people names doesn't help. Instead of arguing, you have to listen generously. You have to let someone speak their piece, their explanation, their account, their reasons, their point of view, all the way through without interruption.
And I did that every day at work because I loved the people I worked with; I loved the company and the culture. They were my family. They were my team. I could listen generously and put aside what I thought was right to find out what they thought was right. Then we could have a conversation, a dialogue, and present arguments pro and con. And at the end of the day, if we had no agreement, our relationship grew stronger because I knew more about them, and they knew more about me.
When there's love, there's the ability to find points of mutual interest regardless of the underlying values. We could also agree to disagree if it didn't transgress labor laws or the company's policies and procedures. If it did, they had to decide to accept the law or exit. There is a fact of law even if you don't like it, which in business we understood.
But what if the situation is with someone you hate. Now what? How do you listen to people you hate, people who repel you with their ideas and their interpretation of the facts? How do you listen to what is unwelcome in your sphere of influence?
I am known to write about three fundamental conflicts. A conflict of styles. A conflict of expectations. And a conflict of values, which is the most problematic conflict to resolve, as we've seen in recent political clashes where values collided. The cause of the conflict, as I see it, was founded by not accepting the fact of law. You don't have to like the law, but you must accept it, and then work within the law if you want to change it if it lacks fairness and justice for all.
How do you wade through the opposition to find common interests when even the judicial system isn't trusted to make a fair decision based on the facts?
What you value may be different from what I value. That's why we have laws and courts. That's why we have the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. The courts are the final arbiter of the facts. We may not always like their decisions, but they stand as the law of the land until we change the law.
What if you created your own internal court of law? How would you weigh the facts? Who would you talk to? Would you only speak to the people that agreed with you? How about being like a court of law where all sides have the opportunity to present their case. How would you listen? Could you be impartial and set aside your beliefs in order to determine the facts? Would you lie in order to win?
Lies attempt to persuade people that the truth is different from the facts when the facts don't support their beliefs. How can we discover the truth if we're willing to lie to win an argument?
Are we above the facts? Are we above the law? It's each of our responsibility to do our homework and not just accept as gospel what someone says is the truth. If something is repeated long enough and over and over, and they have influence, we must be especially vigilant. Like the celebrated physicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson wrote, "Do whatever it takes to avoid fooling yourself into thinking something is true that is not, or that something is not true that is."
There's something I don't talk about because it was a strange and painful time in my life. I was in a spiritual group in the '70s. I started to notice a group think that wasn't beneficial. The leaders couldn't be questioned. They were always right. Anyone who thought differently was quickly denounced and often described as being entities of negative forces. Members were especially warned to stay away from people like me who left the group. They were told not to trust their feelings and if they saw me walking down the street to cross to the other side. And if they didn't, they risked their spiritual development, their very soul.
What did I learn from my own history? Question sooner rather than later. Don't tolerate name-calling, bullying, or hatred of anyone in your presence. Call people on it. Ask how they came to believe that line of thinking. Be present to listen. Questioning leaders is not comfortable, but we must all take accountability for our role in perpetuating behaviors by remaining silent.
I was writing to a friend and wondering what any of us can do to help turn the tide of deep disagreement that seems to be running rampant in our country today. There's so much friction. And no observable way to talk about the conflicting ideas to reveal any common interests. But disagreement doesn't have to result in conflict. I know some interests are essential to all of us if we can turn our attention to dialogue and discussion and away from violence.
Make an effort to shift from hate to love, from righteousness to curiosity.
Find people you care about that don't think like you and have a conversation with them about what is happening today. Then speak from love and learn something new that you haven't considered before. Even then, you most likely won't change your mind, and they won't either, but you may find points you agree on, build a deeper relationship, and create a path forward that includes all of us.
My love goes with you.
Paulette Sun Davis