Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Assuming the Best

I recently had the honor of being a part of a committee that got things done... despite differences of opinion on some stuff we were all pretty passionate about. After being in relationships before that became awkward over clashing personal convictions, it's something of a wonder to me that our little committee is all still friends. No one got kicked off or ignored, despite hours of discussion. In the end, we came to a unified conclusion we all felt good about. It's the stuff of fairytales!

I think the key to our group was a habit I never really thought much about: assuming the best of others. This isn't actually as much of a "habit" of mine as it should be. But I saw the others in the group doing it more often than not, and I hope I can become more and more consistent at putting it into practice myself.

For example, when people talk about a topic they're passionate about, I think most are likely to say something stupid. There are going to be arguments or justifications that pop out of people's mouths that they don't really, in their heart of hearts, believe is true. Or, one idea can be expressed in different vocabularies and somehow, the arguing parties can both fail to see that they're actually arguing the same point in different words. Frustrating. And these places can be breaking points for relationships of all kinds, not just group projects and committees.

But if people enter conversations assuming the other person has a valid point and good reasons for that perspective, it opens the door for rational discussion and communication. If, throughout the conversation, the people involved remind themselves that sometimes the words that are said don't match the heart of the speaker, it's easier to continue the conversation toward a good resolution. Ask clarifying questions. Listen to explanations. Always assume the best.

What's your strategy for getting along with people who you don't agree with?

Love,
Your Sister


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