Find the Unity in Diversity

No matter how we feel, think, or believe, there is unity in our diversity.  We just have to find that one thing that bonds us together.  Finding that one thing we all have in common is the first step to solving any problem.  No matter how far apart we are in our feelings, thinking or beliefs, finding that common ground enables us to come together and find a solution that we all can live with.  This is true in our personal lives as well as in politics.

Some years back I took classes in Family and Divorce Mediation.  I was planning on hanging out my shingle and helping people find solutions to their obstacles.  Learning and doing are not the same thing and I found it difficult to remain unbiased during the process.  My hat is off to those who can do it without having the training and skills of a lawyer.

What I learned, however, has not left me and it has served me well at times.  Mediation is not a win/lose process.  The mediator must find common ground that will enable the parties to eventually come to some agreement that they can both live with.  The mediator must take two parties who are angry, hurt, and suffering and guide them gently to a compromise.  This is not easy.

Having said this, I feel that the same process can be applied to almost any situation.  I have heard about neighbors who don’t get along.  This is so sad, since both have to live where they do and moving is sometimes not possible.   A lot of the time we are “right fighters”, as I’ve heard Dr. Phil say time and time again.  We decided that we have to be right and we will do anything to prove it.  In order to do that we have to go to any length to either prove the other person wrong or sway them around to our point of view.  Either way, the problems are bound to escalate.

Why am I bringing this up?  Every problem starts somewhere.  If we can go back to that first moment and understand the dynamics of the problem from the very first moment, we have a chance of stopping the problem before it becomes unfixable.

Both people often feel like victims.  At that point the problem solving goes out the window.  It takes two to fight.  Therefore, there are two victims and two perpetrators.  No one is at fault all the time.  Each person usually takes turns by making very bad choices which take the disagreement to a new level.

We want to feel vindicated.  We want our suffering to be acknowledged.  We want it to stop.  But what are we willing to do to be part of the solution?  If we are not part of the solution then we are part of the problem.  These misunderstandings are usually created when someone feels disrespected, snubbed,  their personal property damaged, or their privacy and autonomy in jeopardy.

So, what steps can we all take to start mending fences?  If you feel your rights have been trampled on in some way, what do you do first?

Step #1          Purchase a journal.  Start documenting those things that you find offensive.  Don’t just write down what happened, include details of how it made you feel and any expense that was incurred as a result.  Try to explain in as much detail as you can what you are objecting to.  Make it as precise as possible.  If you can’t explain it so you understand it, no one else will understand it and communication is important.   Make sure you write down dates, names, places, and everything you can think of.  Were there any witnesses?

Step #2        Sit down and go over your journal entries regularly.  Try to figure out why you are so angry.  Is it something from your past that you are reacting to in the present or is it a real problem that needs to be addressed.  Try to find the root of the problem and why you may be reacting so badly to the situation.  Sometimes it is simply that the other person is not taking responsibility for their actions or the actions of friends or family members, not to mention pets.  Knowing these things helps clarify it. But do your homework before you snap.

Step #3        If this is an ongoing situation that can’t be ignored, it is time to address your concerns to the other person.  Call and set up a time when both of you can sit down in a neutral place like a restaurant or other public place to discuss it.  It might be wise to bring along a friend and urge the other person to do the same.  Be nice about it.  Coming to the table angry will not serve your cause.

Step #4       Write down what you want to say.  Be prepared.  Ask the person to let you say what you need to say and then she can have her turn uninterrupted.  Explain that you want to find a solution to the problem that you both will be happy with.  Then be respectful when she speaks and try to understand her point of view as well.  This is the point when a solution is most likely to be found.  Make sure you look at how she sees the problem from her perspective and try to find some common ground to work from.  Allow her to be part of the solution and do not dictate the solution.  There are two sides to every story.  Ask questions about what is going on in their life as if they are your best friend.  Share with them those things that they might need to know in order to understand your situation.  Are you a day sleeper?  Have you had a recent illness?  Have you been going through some tough times and might be a little sensitive right now?  Anything that you can share could be potentially helpful.  anything they share can be something to ponder.

Step #5        Assure the other person that they have been heard and impress upon them that you will take what you have heard home and think on it.  Then, really think on it in earnest.  Find the common ground.  Try to put yourself in their place.  Offer your help in some way that may take a burden from their shoulders or offer a solution they may not have thought of. But don’t back them into a wall.  They will come out fighting and that is not what you want.

Everyone’s situation is unique.  But, there will also be commonalities that you can use as a spring board.  What ever you do, have compassion and come at the problem from the point of view that the person may not even be aware there is a problem.  It probably is not a deliberate act against you.  And, there might be a good explanation that you can understand or you might lite on a solution that you can do to solve the problem for yourself.  I have always believed that good fences make for good neighbors.  It may be as simple as a good fence.  Don’t resent the other person for making this problem for you.  Your fence might just ease her burden too.



~ by womenstudycenter on November 29, 2009.

One Response to “Find the Unity in Diversity”

  1. Thank you for sharing

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