A neighborhood friend of mine called the other morning and said, “Hey, wanna latte? I’m in line at the coffee shop.” My reply came in one exhale, “Let-me-think-about-it-yes-extra-hot-with-hazelnut, please!”
Later, as the cup of java warmed my hands and my soul on a rainy morning, he brings up the election. He fires off, “I’d never vote for a woman. Women are crazy.”
Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. First, I wanted to pour the double, hot latte on him, not because of his political party, but because of his choice based on gender. Then, I wanted to go off on how he doesn’t see women as equals and he is awful to think like a caveman. But I paused. This is the same guy who rescues me in a crisis when I need major help.
Too, he brings me hot, yummy coffee.
And we disagree. Often. This could’ve turned into an ugly, heated debate. Pick two people with similar goals but with different life histories and perceptions, and there’s likely to be opposition. However, if you try to see the other person’s reality and you approach your thoughts as if you’re on the same team in this thing called life, conflict lessens.
Here are a five ideas to get you through the election and other difficult discussions.
- Speak your opinions and beliefs in love, as an edification, not in anger or hate. Do you think a verbal lashing will help someone change their mind to align with yours? No conversation ends well at the end of a dark tailspin.
- You may want to change minds, and you may, but instead respect and love them and try to understand other’s viewpoints. We don’t have to convince them “we are right” and they need to think like us.
- Many people react and make choices based on fear. The person across from you has fears and though they may seem illogical, they’re real. Sometimes fears paralyze them from making a good choice, or any choice at all. For instance, this friend’s mom had a drug problem, and for that he doubted and never trusted her. I can’t say for sure, but because of his experience it’s plausible he projects his mistrust on the 2016 Democratic candidate—a woman.
- Challenge yourself to remove people from check-box categories: gender, race, religion, political party, class, and other subcategories. Any time you think “those people” you are unfairly categorizing. Erase the boxes in which you’ve placed people in and view each person and action separately.
- Choose to perceive life around you as positive and hopeful. Head towards the light. Be the light.
I challenge each of you to allow differences of opinion without the unnecessary conflict. The world is a big, beautiful place with a variety of people with rich life stories from which we can all learn something beneficial. Let’s look at each individual with new eyes and willful understanding. Put love first at the root of all our conversations, thoughts and choices. Allow a safe environment for people to discuss and even disagree with you. Bring someone with a different opinion than yours a hot coffee. Just because.