Why can’t Liberals and Conservative talk to each other?
Does this happen in your family? With your friends? When two people from opposite sides of the political spectrum start to have a political discussion it either goes out of control, or gets shut down. (“Let’s change the subject. I don’t want any talk about politics.”)
The two sides stay completely opposed, stuck, no improvement gets made on the problems which are allowed to fester.
When a conversation does take place the interactions often get tangled, then hostile, often the subject is dropped.
Both sides believe that they have the truth.
What doesn’t happen is a chance to explore the truth of the other side.
To increase the horizons of the discussion.
To recognize that each view has a piece of the truth.
To recognize that some problems can be addressed, but not if the other side or the other view is vilified.
Start with Listening to start a conversation
First: Listen to each other. Both have to be willing to listen and to hear the experience of the other, to recognize that the experience is valid.
What does listening well mean? Listening well means that you can describe the point of view of the other person in your own words.
Listening may not be an easy exercise. We are often revved up to tell our own side, or to criticize the point of view of the other.
We are thinking about what we want to say rather than listening to the other person. See Here for ways to improve listening in challenging situations.
Both persons also have to be willing to share their experiences, with specific examples, expressing feelings and thoughts about that.
Expressing our own experience may also be difficult. It is easy to give one impassioned example, but to give a series of these, in a calm way, without criticism of the other person’s experience, is also difficult. Go Here for tips on effective expression of your thoughts and feelings and experiences.
The Question is “How?”
The second step is moving to the question How?
Given that some problems have been identified, how do you address these problems?
Start with the recognition that these issues do not have to be roadblocks. These are problems to be solved.
The problems are valid. They cause real problems for real people.
Problem solving also requires us to accept that a solution will not work perfectly. But improvement can be made.
Let’s open a dialogue!!