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Be Open to Learning Something New

BY JACK HAMILTON AND ELISABETH SEAMAN

Co-Authors of 'Conflict-The Unexpected Gift'

In her recently published book, 'I Love You but I Hate Your Politics: How to Protect Your Intimate Relationships in a Poisonous Partisan World,' Jeanne Safer makes several good points. She explains very clearly how to deal amicably with someone whose political leanings are very different from her own—those of her husband. For the first years of their marriage, she tried very hard to change his viewpoints.

As we explain in our book, “Conflict - The Unexpected Gift,” the challenge facing us is to learn how to take responsibility for the fallacious assumptions that may be part and parcel of our own political views before we instantly judge the other person’s opinions as erroneous. We need to figure out how to use the Ladder of Assumptions tool to step back and realize how often we find ourselves being in the position of “the pot calling the kettle black.”

That doesn’t mean that we have to undo the views we sincerely hold, but rather that we can give the other person the benefit of the doubt and be open to learning something new from listening to their point of view. Ms. Safer eventually discovered that listening for deep understanding to someone else’s view of things—from politics to religion and anything else—can enable us to find aspects of their opinions that we may surprisingly find valid.

The unexpected outcome may well be a foundation for the two individuals ultimately reaching a deeper understanding and a more solid, enduring relationship.

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