I’ve been wondering if you already know how to bring two sides together. I doubt I can help you by listing the proven methods that help with that. I know I learned how to reconcile opposing factions from my experiences that worked and those that backfired on me. I don’t know what you have learned from your own experiences about arguing and resolving differences. All I can really do is show you how it’s done by what follows:
Show up with more questions than answers, accusations and arguments
- Have you noticed that it’s easier to learn from people who walk the talk and provide you with exemplary conduct than from people to only tell you how to act?
- Have you ever felt yourself becoming more interested because the speaker seemed more interested in you than in trying to be an interesting person?
- Have you experienced the tension fading from an argument when the other side starts learning about your side of the issue, your underlying concerns and your circumstances affected by the argument?
- Have you ever developed a casual acquaintance into a significant friendship by asking a lot of questions, by learning more about the person and remaining curious to discover their latest experiences?
- Have you influenced people to respect and trust you by obviously respecting and trusting them with the questions you ask them?
- Have you delved deeper into understanding others by asking follow-up questions? How did you do that? When did this work for you? What different approaches have you discovered to get the results you were seeking?
- Have you noticed how much more relaxed you become when you prepare questions to ask an adversary than when you prepare opposing arguments and ammunition to shoot down their objections?
Change the atmosphere before changing the conversation
- You might be afraid you’re weakening your own bargaining position by acknowledging your opponent’s concerns, constituencies and circumstances.
- You might be opposed to speaking your opponent’s mind about how they see you, how they may be interpreting your conduct and how they are preparing to defend themselves from your pressure tactics.
- You might wish your adversaries would lower their defenses first while they appear to be waiting for you to act somewhat vulnerable, accessible and flexible.
- You might expect your opponents to open their minds because it is absolutely necessary to reach an agreement rather than because you took the initiative to approach them with an open mind first.
See through their tactics before they affect you
- Can you detect through his/her body language when someone is lying, exaggerating, bluffing or baiting you?
- Can you perceive their underlying weaknesses, insecurities and self-incriminations when they are trying to bully, intimidate or antagonize you?
- Can you see how desperate your adversaries are becoming when they resort to put downs, cheap shots and snide remarks?
- Can you remain disengaged when they try to provoke you to overreact, make a fool of yourself or lose your cool?
Look past opposing positions to their secondary interests
- When people are totally opposed to what I want, I have got to wonder what else they have going on in their world besides blocking my primary objective?
- When I get curious about their secondary objectives, I usually learn they have an audience waiting to hear how their side ended up and others who will help clean up the mess or take the next step — depending on how the reconciliation turns out for them.
- When I get a picture of who else has a vested interest in the outcome, I begin to wonder how I can help them out, make their lives easier or validate their concerns?
- When I discover ways to meet my opponents’ secondary objectives, my interest in them becomes a secondary objective of mine which can lead to reconciliation of the initial opposing positions.
I don’t know if you got this? I may have lost you if you were expecting a straightforward explanation. I cannot tell if you got a sense of confidence from this that you could do this too or became more hopeless about ever getting past some big disagreement, stalemate or standoff? I wonder if you could already bring two sides together in practice, but now realize how to do a better job of preparing or conducting yourself?