Canadians aren’t always as polite as our reputation would suggest. Last week the first Liberal majority government in 15 years was elected. But that didn’t mean that a majority of people voted for Justin Trudeau. Sixty percent of voters actually choose someone else to lead the country.
In the aftermath of this historic election, Canadians took to social media to express their opinion one way or another, often in un-Canadian fashion. Let’s just say those who were happy with the result bragged and gloated and those who were unhappy used words like “disastrous”, “tragic” and “frightening” to describe the outcome.
There continues to be a lot of disagreement.
We get territorial and start to create an “us vs them” mindset.
We try to convince the other side why we are right and they are wrong.
We easily forget our civility while expressing our views.
Conflicting opinions in an election are no different than any other disputes we might have at work or at home. Often disagreements do not bring out the best in us because we forget in the moment what is actually important.
Here are 3 essential things to remember when we disagree:
Kindness is not conditional.
Even if we disagree.
It’s easy to abandon civility when we begin to defend the territory of our “right” opinion. It is possible to disagree and still remain kind and compassionate in the process. In fact, it may be that compromise is only possible when we hold the other person as entitled to their opinion as we are entitled to ours. If emotions are so high that you can’t have a respectful conversation, then wait until you can bring a calmer presence to the discussion.
There is always a bigger picture.
In the recent election, the bigger picture was remembering and being grateful for living in a country where we get to freely exercise our right to vote and no matter the outcome there would be a peaceful transition of power. We forget that this is not the case for many people in many places around the world. Our political differences seem far less significant once we keep that in mind.
In disagreements with family members, the bigger picture has to do with values, love, commitment and legacy. Those often take a back seat when we vigorously debate our views on much smaller issues in comparison.
With our co-workers the big picture is about mission, vision, teamwork, respect and reputation. Sometimes we lose sight of those important elements of an organization when our focus shifts exclusively to productivity and profits.
It’s not personal.
We disagree with ideas, opinions and concepts, not human beings. If we can keep that in mind, it helps us to not take disagreements as personal attacks. It also helps us to separate the person in front of us from their perspectives. We can totally disagree with an idea without having to devalue the person defending it.
In his acceptance speech, Justin Trudeau referenced former Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s comment in1895 about “sunny ways” to compromise. Laurier was referring to the Aesop’s fable about the wind and the sun in which the sun demonstrated that a warm and cozy approach got better results than a blustery one. Laurier posed this thought-provoking question to Parliament:
Do you not believe that there is more to be gained by appealing to the heart and soul of men rather than to compel them to do a thing?
When we find ourselves in disagreement with others, whether at home or work or in our communities, imagine what’s possible if we focus on connecting rather than convincing.