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Thursday, November 17, 2016

People Who Disagree With You Aren’t as Dumb as You Think

The people who don’t share the same beliefs as you or who don’t understand you aren’t stupid. Yes, they may be lacking certain elements of education and the ability to think critically (I said “may” not “definitely”)—but they are doing what they perceive as fair, just like you.

Your finger pointing and shaming and condescending attitude will not bring the other person to your view point. But putting yourself in their shoes (empathy); even if you find that their shoes have holes, no laces, and are two sizes too small (maybe they feel the same way about their own shoes, too)—metaphorically speaking, of course; you have a greater chance of coming together on the one issue that you both care about. Find the common ground. 

Side note: I’ll admit that the argument I’m making is somewhat thrown out the window when the person across from you is trying to trample on another person’s human rights; and/or is a blatant racist, sexist, xenophobe, or engages in discriminatory acts. And as a straight, white guy it’s probably easier for me to say “find a way to work with that person anyway,” so I won’t even go there. 

We don’t have to hang out or invite to Thanksgiving everyone who you agree or disagree with. But we can treat people with civility, empathy, kindness, and understanding—even if we are the bigger person for doing so. 

Some of the best opportunities to learn come from those who don’t agree with us.  It can bring about self-reflection, sharpen empathy, and help shape new methods and methodologies to make change not only the way we want to see it but in a way that’s best for everyone. 

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