I don’t often get the “opportunity” to spend time with folks who see the world grossly differently from me. I tend to surround myself and work on relationships with those who think more like me. They’re usually smart, witty and right!
But a few weeks ago, I shared a meal with someone who tackled the world from a totally different perspective.
At first I was quite taken aback, even offended by his comments. How in the heck could he see the world that way? What’s wrong with him, I thought to myself.
And then, I began to listen to his story. I peppered him with questions about how he was raised and how he got to where he is today. And a light bulb went off. No wonder he’s like this! It makes perfect sense.
We all come to the table with a view built on our specific life experiences. He acts this way because of the way he was raised and because of the specific people and experiences he has encountered.
One thing was clear during our hour-long lunch: he wasn’t changing my mind on today’s political issues, and I wasn’t going to change his. But taking the time to listen, to put myself into his shoes, helped me understand why he views the world in, to me, is such an odd way.
I wish we, as a country, could have more open and honest dialogue. I wish we would be more willing to sit with others who are different from us. I want to spend more time with the other side, listening more – not to build a strategy to win but to gain a deeper understanding of why.
Let’s get in a room. Let’s lock the door. Let’s not come out until everyone has respectfully told their story. Not just their opinion, but their story – their background and the journey that has helped them form their worldview.
Then, let’s start all over again.