2004-05-21 / Columnists

The Inner Voice

by Marilyn Gelfand

Were you ever so sure you were right about something, and then went to talk about it with someone else who shot it down? So many conflicts occur because people believe there is only one right answer or only one way to solve a problem. After being locked into onesided-rightness can come a feeling of being unappreciated and feeling hurt. Then both sides can get angry, polarized, and get farther and farther apart. Some people may then resort to finding allies to substantiate their point of view. If it is really important, and both people are well-meaning, there are ways to solve differences.

First, there has to be a feeling of mutual respect for another’s point of view. It is often exciting to hear how another interprets a situation or problem. It can be fascinating and also show you how the other person looks at life. It is good to understand the perspective of somebody we care about. Then there must be a detachment from my need to be right. Instead there must be a replacement with how can I best solve this problem. If I can openly listen to the ideas of others, I may be truly enlightened. As long as I feel I can ultimately have the final say, there can be no harm in hearing out others. If you are not interested, then a polite thanks, but no thanks is sufficient. The way we share information is important too. I have to watch my tone, attitude and if I am closing down prematurely. Often people react to arrogance rather than any message. I often find that I ask questions rather than make statements. Some people think that statements are edicts, that must be obeyed, and react accordingly.

The most important point is to know who you are dealing with. Perhaps humor will break the polarization so then points of view can be seen by both sides. These ideas work if both sides are willing to make the relationship or team endeavor work.

Without mutual participation, the best step may be to ignore the other person rather than react and just go about your own business.

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