I recently read a very interesting blog post from Diane Brogan, mother of Internet star Chris Brogan. The gist of the post was that someone in a book review had very poorly treated her son from Chris’ most recent book, The Impact Equation.
The point of Diane’s post was we can have a disagreement and we don’t have to make it personal. Too often in our society we strongly disagree with someone and instead of staying on the topic we move to a personal attack. It’s the personal attacks that are dangerous and never help us move forward.
Compromise is the root of all-evil.
I keep hearing that if only the people in Washington would compromise everything would be good. Every time I hear someone say that I think to myself that we’re heading down the road of disaster. Our problems are not the type that need compromise; They’re the type that need a different way of going about solving them.
My goal, and I bet it’s your goal also, is to have a solution that’s good for me and good for you. When we accept anything less than that we either get compromise where we both lose, a power grab by you where you win and I lose ,or a power grab by me where I win and you lose. Nothing good ever comes from any of these options except where you win and I win.
It starts with hearing the other person.
When you and I have a disagreement we need to not only listen to each other, we need to hear each other. This means we need to stop thinking about what we’re going to say after you or I have said three words. We need to listen completely and thoroughly to what the other is saying. We need to ask the question why and continue asking it until we understand what’s behind someone else’s belief system.
We need a 3rd alternative.
The late Stephen Covey’s last book was one called The 3rd Alternative. In his book he asks us to not settle for compromise, but to search and find a 3rd way of getting to where we need to go. Not only this does this involve listening, but it also requires us to look for a completely different alternative.
I know that when I really listen and ask good questions, a 3rd alternative almost always appears. It’s usually something neither of us were originally thinking about. It only appears when we both are seriously interested in solving the problem and have given up the need to be right or protect our own position.
It all comes down having a clear understanding of what we’re trying to accomplish.
Have you ever had the experience where you have an idea of what you want to do, but when you reflect on why it’s important you can’t come up with a good answer? Have you ever found that you start trying to figure out how you’re going to get somewhere before you really know where you want to go?
We often start concentrating on how we’re going to accomplish something before we’ve clarified what it is we want. Once we have a core reason for why, we can then put together what it is we want to accomplish that makes sense. Only after we’ve put together a good ‘what’ can we move to how we’re going to accomplish a particular outcome.
This is true for us in our daily lives and it’s true for those in Washington. It’s true for the larger conversations we have about things like immigration, entitlement programs, and gun control. These issues are big ones. We just won’t make any progress until we stop and listen, ask what we’re really trying to accomplish, why they’re important in the first place, and then how we’ll actually get there. Without what and why we just are talking at each other and not to each other.
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