I believe that we have something in common with everyone, even those people with whom we would never believe we could have something in common. These commonalities can be in the form of values, ideas, backgrounds, tastes, experiences, senses of humor, physical traits – absolutely anything. They can help two or more people take the first steps toward a discussion, compromise or even agreement.
I believe this because, in every type of work that I have done, mostly in administration or social service, I have ALWAYS used this tool of finding something – anything – in common with others to connect with them – and I have been very successful in building the relationships necessary to work together harmoniously. I have worked effectively with people so completely different from me in so many ways – with very different core values and ideas – and with people whom I really disliked or mistrusted. I have also become friends with people who are very different from me – religiously, politically, for example – but with whom I share some important core values that bond us.
I hope that this essay makes people think about those whom we often call our enemies – who probably share some of the very same core values, ideas or experiences. Maybe many of them are fanatics for a specific sports team, have a parent who is an alcoholic or have a teenager who challenges them on a daily basis. Once again – it could be anything. Thinking about those commonalities makes us realize that those “enemies” may be more like us than we know or want to admit. If we choose to open dialogues and really listen, we may be able to work with them to develop some kind of relationship – even if we don’t agree with them or even like them.
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