We all experience differences in our relationships every day—political and religious differences, racial and ethnic differences. There are differences in the way we parent, the way we work, the way we spend money, and in just about any other area you can imagine.

There are a number of ways most of us deal with someone having a varying opinion to ours. We might talk rationally, but without really saying what we mean. We might withdraw. Or get angry or mean. Become passive or hopeless. But mostly, we all try to change the other person’s point of view and have them come to “our side”—even if we don’t realize we’re doing that.

What we could be doing, however, is listening to the other person’s perspective and working to get our point across without damaging the relationship. And there are two ways to do this. The first is to just listen. Not listen for a counter argument, but truly listen—hear what someone is saying as a way of understanding what they mean and where they’re coming from, what they’re about, and how they’re feeling.

The second way to work through a difference in a healthy way is to speak honestly about what you believe. Speak your truth. And not in a controlling way or aggressive way, but simply communicating what you believe. Quiet, yet strong: state what you think.

The way we deal with differences reveals more about ourselves than anything else. It can reveal our insecurities, our biases, our strengths and weaknesses. That’s because conflict can show us who we are. And if we take advantage of truly seeing ourselves and working on ourselves, we will be better able to stay strong in what we believe is right while supporting and strengthening our relationship with whoever we disagree with.

 

Practice:

Today, I will become aware that I have a tendency to _____________________ when someone close to me has a different way of doing things or a different point-of-view.

When this happens, I will ________________________ as a way of changing how I deal with these differences so I can strengthen the relationship with _____________________________ and still keep myself whole.