How do you handle differences?
Daily we interact with a variety of individuals. These interactions often bring us joy and new perspectives. Yet, from time to time, differences may arise, some can be serious while others are just minor scrapes in our day-to-day life. Whatever their nature, how we deal with our differences impacts on us mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Doing what is within our power to resolve differences agreeably will contribute to our enjoying a healthier life and more peaceful relationships with others. An ancient proverb says: “A calm heart is the life of the fleshly organism.”
In our day-to-day interactions, we are exposed to hundreds of messages from in-person engagements to online news and media outlet. Unless we are to place ourselves in bubbles, we are bound to be exposed to adverse and critical thoughts. Unchecked, we can easily be trapped to become enraged and angry at such messages into our lives. However, there is something we can control, which will influence how we respond to differences we have with others, it’s our attitude.
A first step toward resolving a perceived or real difference is recognizing our role in the matter and our attitudes and feelings towards a situation. When we take time to sit with our emotions, we may discern the source of our problem is not the other person. Take the story of Jonah and the Big Fish as a way of example, you might remember him from your Sunday school lessons.
Jonah lived several years ago in a land full of hatred and violence. One day he was told to go to the people of the area and declare judgement on them. When he did this, the people felt sorry and agreed to stop their corrupt ways, so the judgment was reversed. When Jonah learned about this, he was upset by this outcome. But why? It was his pride.
When we think about this story, who hasn’t been in Jonah’s shoes, where our pride is hurt. It might be due to a change in circumstance, a ‘guaranteed’ result doesn’t turn out as expected. Could we, at times, likewise need to change our own attitude toward a matter?
Imagine two young children tugging at the same toy, each pulling harder and harder to have it. Angry words may accompany the struggle until finally, one relinquishes his hold or someone else intervenes.
In the workplace, we, at times, may witness events or be a partaker in an event similar to this analogy. Like the children, it required someone to intervene or hurt on the part of one individual. What would the longer outcome be? Children often forget and quickly go back to playing. However, adults tend to be much less forgiving, often resulting in more hurt individually.
To maintain peaceful relations with others, at times, it requires a sacrifice on our part; this sacrifice might be our pride. Along with this, it might mean we are taking the first step to remedy the situation. There is incredible power in words – the power to heal and the power to hurt.
Words can have a powerful effect for good. When we are acknowledging the feelings of others, and work to understand their views, our perspective of the world, and others will broaden. If we have in some way contributed to hurt feelings? Acknowledgement and a few well-thought-out words may restore a damaged relationship. Sometimes, this recognition and reassurance in committing to working through are all necessary to start mending the relationship.
When we act with empathy, peace and love as driving attributes, we will be contributing to a more peaceful society. While it is true that we cannot control others’ feelings, we can do our part to promote peace.
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