Guest column: Differences can be resolved, don’t burn your bridges
It’s natural to agree to disagree with someone. We all have differences – at work, within the family, with our children, our spouses, grandparents and amongst siblings too. Wherever there is a little bit of intellect, differences are bound to arise because of our capability of looking at the same thing from different angles.
Differences are good, in fact many organizations can benefit from managers with different takes on solving one problem. Different ways of thinking sometimes lead to innovation and creativity and lay the foundation of strong and stable organisations provided our differences don’t degenerate to disputes.
Differences cause damage only when we are not able to appreciate someone else’s point of view. We become judgmental too early. These differences make this world beautiful and interesting. We can have minor differences that we can easily manage. Just ignore them, live with them and, in fact, celebrate them. But then there are times when we have to sort out our differences within the family or the organisation or the society just to amicably coexist with the other.
However, sometimes major differences between top leaders can create problems and hamper the progress of an organisation if not resolved. Similarly, some major differences can disrupt a family’s peace – perhaps forever.
I have the firm belief that the best way to resolve differences is through dialogue. The only condition is that we should have an open mind to respect diversity and divergent views and dignity of the other party. We should initiate dialogues without any preconceived notions and not let it degenerate into heated debates that we see every day now on various TV news channels.
Dialogues should also be held in a cordial manner, only aiming at fostering mutual insight and common purpose.
The other party should be given a patient hearing with maturity and empathy, with efforts made to seek common ground and explore new ideas and perspectives. Our shoulders should be broad enough to embrace criticism, transforming it to collaboration by even co-opting the ideas of the other party if possible.
Any continuation of dialogue will ensure that our communication channels don’t break down and that we always remain focused on a solution.
Disruption of dialogue will only create more barriers, leading to mistrust and then enmity and hatred.
So, we must keep talking, maybe more about our commonalities first before moving to minor differences which can be resolved easily. These may be called confidence building measures between the two parties. We can build bridges and strong bonds even with people who hold very different views from us.
Differences will start disappearing when we focus more on the commonalities.
Dialogue enables us to find common ground between two opposing parties and establishing priorities for action. Remember, effective dialogue requires all participants to have equal standing. Participants in the dialogue should listen to each other with mutual respect, empathy and dignity. Ideas and assumptions should be explored openly and without being judgmental in an effective dialogue. People will have to remove their coloured glasses before commencing any dialogue to be effective, meaningful and fruitful.
They should remember, dialogue gives them an opportunity to build bridges and not burn them.
(The writer is a Chandigarh-based freelance contributor, views expressed are personal)