Brace yourself, because I’m about to drop a news flash! Ready? Not everyone shares the same viewpoints as me. Whoa, that’s huge! Here’s an even bigger news flash… not everyone shares the same viewpoints as you either. BOOM!!
You’re probably sarcastically thinking, “Thanks for dropping the obvious on me, Scott. I had no idea!” If that’s your thought, then you’d be right; we all obviously know that not everyone agrees with our viewpoints and opinions. Yet while we know this to be true, I think we sometimes forget that a person’s viewpoint or opinion, which may seem strange, or even wrong to us, makes perfect sense to them.
There is a reason why a person thinks the way they do, or believes what they believe. Their viewpoints are likely shaped by their own unique life experiences, which are probably not the exact same life experiences that we’ve had.
Ok, that seems pretty obvious too. So why do I bring it up?
There’s so much divisiveness now. It seems when we encounter someone with a differing viewpoint, we feel we a need to defend our position. We’re eager enter into a debate and convince the other person that their viewpoint is wrong, and if they had even a slight modicum of intelligence, they would adopt our position. We already know where that usually leads: more discord, animosity, hurt feelings, and possibly fractured relationships. I propose another response to differing viewpoints.
What if, the next time we’re confronted with an opposing viewpoint, instead of immediately entering into a debate, we try to genuinely find out why the person holds that viewpoint? Not with toxic accusations or labeling, but with a genuine curiously and non-inflammatory questions. What if we cared enough to see beyond the differences, and to see the person and their experience that lead them to the viewpoints they hold?
My guess is, that once we’ve taken the time to understand someone, we’ll have a better comprehension of why they think the way they do. Who knows? We might even change our own viewpoint in the process.