Life & FamilyNovember 6, 2012

From His Perspective: Arguing & Understanding

I know today is all about politics, but I for one am not into using social media to scream about my beliefs.  It’s been very interesting to see some serious vitriol and name calling on Facebook and Twitter this election season between friends of opposing party affiliations. Never mind all the ridiculous ads we are barraged with when trying to watch TV!  I happen to believe one thing above all- no one person can solve all our problems.  It will take partnerships and collaboration to get America back on it’s feet just as it takes the same type of work in ALL relationships.  Andrew and I have been discussing this a lot at home and he wrote a great piece about arguing and working together that I thought would be the perfect thing to post today, regardless of the outcome- without further ado, my better half:

They say you should never judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes (or something close to that). I have recently come to realize how powerful and loaded that statement really is.

While there are several directions I could go from here I would like to use this as a base to discuss communication. A overburdened topic in and of itself, the nearing of the election, the debates, etc. have caused me to stop and think about how people interact. Whether its family, friends, colleagues, or politicians, we could all do better by walking a mile in the others shoes.

9 times out of 10, a disagreement that leads to an argument isn’t resolved at the end of the discussion. In fact it’s probably closer to 9.99999 times out of 10. If you have ever been on the outside looking in it’s rare that one side is so wrong and the other is so right. There’s usually a bit of gray. Parts where one has a good point, parts where the other does, and many where there is no clear right or wrong.

What is missing, at least in order to move the discussion along, is understanding. You have to stop, see the other person’s side of things (no matter how wrong they obviously are), and actually understand their point of view. In fact, try and argue for their side. It is rare that they don’t have a point, and while you may not agree with it, it is their right to think that way. You have to accept that…try and change them and it falls apart.

This is clearly at the heart of the failings of congress. Republicans, democrats, and independents can all agree on one thing…the country can’t move forward with all sides digging in their heels and being unwillingly to work together and compromise. The same can be true in our own personal lives. Erin and I are evolving in the way we argue. We are much better at hearing and listening. We don’t always agree, but we understand. It makes for a much happier household.

How did we do it? It was all me (honestly, not patting my own back, but its true). I stopped and decided to listen. To understand. And then the strangest thing happened…so did she. It only takes one side to try for this to work. So the next time you are arguing and not going anywhere, whether it is in work, family or politics, try to be the one who changes the nature of the conversation. Be the one who understands the other side. It’s the only way you’ll get your point across.

I would like to remind Andrew to consider this “other side” when arguing about the number of pillows we have on the bed and the necessity of lucite furniture, which is NOT Miami Vice. Thank you.

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