After everything that we’ve faced in 2016, we can all use a lesson on how to get along with people with different views. The fact is, if you are a passionate humanist who is connected to other passionate humanists with opposing viewpoints pertaining to the things you care deeply about, interpersonal conflicts can and will arise. But because society works in a way where we all have to get along, independent of the things that may seem divisive to us, we have to figure out how to maintain relationships and work together for a common purpose.
This, of course, is way harder than it seems When discussing climate change, politics, genetically modified food (GMO), social justice, or anything that we truly care about, it’s incredibly hard not to get carried away. But, we should assume – for the most part – that the convictions held by the other people are important to them to the same degree that our convictions are important to us. This essentially means that whatever point is being discussed, the ideas and suggestions put forth by all involved parties should stem from a place of fairness and underlying hope for peace.
It’s so incredibly true, however, that we can all lose our cool at one point or another. Surely you can think of at least a few times where you were so enthralled and ignited by a discussion that you may have – accidentally or not – said some things that are usually not a part of your normal lexicon. But here’s the thing: a sign of true maturity is being able to admit that it’s important to hear out the other side even if you truly and deeply disagree, for the purpose of learning how to see something from a 360° angle and expanding your diplomacy skills.
“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” – F.Scott Fitzgerald
How To Get Along With People: A Guide
First, you have to accept the fact that many of the people you know are related to, hang out with, and work alongside are going to have opinions that are different from your own. Yes, this is absolutely obvious, but it’s also surprisingly difficult. It has to do with the fact that most of the time we’re trying to convince others to agree with us, instead of listening to them and trying to understand where they’re coming from.
According to the Museum of Tolerance, tolerance is defined as:
“A fair and objective attitude toward those whose opinions and practices differ from one’s own, [and] the commitment to respect human dignity. There are two definitions because the concept of tolerance covers a lot: attitudes as well as actions, individual choices as well as social, political and legal commitments. It is also a vision that encompasses everybody. Every person is both a purveyor and beneficiary of tolerance.”
When trying to learn how to get along with people with different views, you must learn to practice empathy. The fact is, you can definitely understand and share the feelings of the people you’re speaking with without agreeing with them on any given subject. This is accomplished by putting yourself in their shoes. For example, someone can formulate an opinion and take a position on a serious matter without gathering all of the available information – for whatever reasons. You can hear them out, understand where they are coming from, and either provide a counter-perspective or lay out your own ideas without insulting that person’s passion, feelings and position.
According to Berkeley’s Greater Good blog, we should practice empathy because:
“Empathy is a building block of morality. It is also a key ingredient of successful relationships because it helps us understand the perspectives, needs, and intentions of others. Here are some of the ways that research has testified to the far-reaching importance of empathy.
1) Empathy reduces prejudice and racism.
2) Empathy is good for your marriage.
3) Empathy reduces bullying.
4) Empathy promotes heroic acts.
5) Empathy fights inequality.
6) Empathy is good for health care.”
Leave it at the door. While it’s absolutely understandable that in a conversation with a passionate person you may feel like being confrontational, even aggressive, do your best not to be. Aggression stems from stress and frustration, both of which could be completely under your control once you learn a few stress management techniques. Aggression should never be the ruling emotion when you’re trying to have a serious discussion, resolve a dispute, or find common ground.
Furthermore, consider learning about your psychological triggers; what subjects, topics, and sentences instigate your aggression. Then, address them. According to GoodTherapy.org: “ Many different types of therapy may be helpful in treating aggressive or violent behavior, depending on the reasons for the behavior as well as the personality and life experiences of the person in treatment.”
This world is full of 7.4 billion people. That’s 7.4 billion different opinions, ideas, convictions, beliefs, and traditions. It’s completely normal to disagree on a lot of different things when we really understand these numbers. But, because we have only one planet to share between us, we have absolutely no choice but to find ways to communicate, cooperate, and coexist. It is our duty as human beings to lift each other up rather than put each other down, which is why it’s immeasurably important to learn how to get along with people with different views.