It can seem impossible.
The neighbor with the loud dog, the coworker with the political bumper stickers, or the guy in the coffee line with the super-complicated order… sometimes it can seem like we’re at odds with everyone around us.
Of course, these are silly examples. Sometimes the people you work with, spend time with, or even live with can feel like opposition.
But they’re not really your opponent. They aren’t your enemies and they aren’t your obstacles. They are people. Real, talking, thinking, breathing humans with dreams, goals, values, and fears of their own. And whether or not you recognize it, there is common ground between you and those with whom you feel little connection.
You might be thinking, “Okay, so what’s the big deal? I don’t need to be everybody’s friend.”
That’s true. And you probably can’t be everybody’s friend. But when you allow yourself to consider the perspective of others, you grow, and you stop seeing so many enemies around you.
There may be someone with whom you feel you have no common ground. No connecting point that could allow you to foster a better relationship with that person. That doesn’t mean you should pretend it’s impossible.
Don’t lose your curiosity! Be willing to share and listen. The best case may be that you find an interest or value that you share, and develop a better relationship with that person. If not, you’ll still learn something important about them, and about yourself in the process.
This isn’t easy, or something we’re naturally inclined to do. We’ve arrived at our own value systems through a lifelong process of learning. Someone on a different path from you has learned different lessons, some of which may enrich your life.
Is there someone in your life with whom things have gotten a little icy? Maybe you sense emotional distance because of a perceived difference. Think of what you might share in common with that person.
Calmly place your attention on what matters to both of you and remember that that person has taken their own journey to arrive at this moment, and that journey is vital.
Live a vīdl life by finding common ground. It can help you strengthen a weak relationship, connect with someone different from you, and expose you to perspectives that challenge and strengthen your own.