|What do we do when our truths aren't the same?|
As educators, we often sit beside people who have a different truth than we have. Whether working with our teams, sitting with parents, or listening to specialists we can find our truths do not match. Whether teaching, coaching, or leading, we run up against those who have a different way of seeing situations. So often in these situations it seems we choose a fight or flight strategy. I've watched people shut down when someone begins muscling their truth into situations. I've seen people dig their heels in when faced with a truth different from the truth they hold. This can lead to "this or that" confrontations when the truth - and the solution - is likely somewhere in the middle. We see these extreme poles in conversations of phonics, technology, grammar, timed fact tests, conventions, and other educational hot-button topics.
What do we do when our truths aren't the same?
Five Tips to Help Us When Our Truths Aren't the Same
- Listen More, Talk Less: I've been in enough situations where once I unraveled a truth I could begin to see the point of view of the person beside me that I've learned to listen more and talk less when my truth doesn't match the person beside me.
- Ask Questions: When our truths don't match, it's hard not too over-infer or read more into what is being said. This is why this is the perfect time to start asking questions to help to better understand. So often after asking clarifying questions I begin to understand more the other person's point of view.
- Stay Curious: Instead of trying to be right, if we work to stay curious we can begin to work toward understanding the point of view of others. In our work, this is essential to finding better solutions to complicated challenges.
- Build a Bridge: Listening more, asking questions, and staying curious can help us to build a bridge to a common truth, understanding or solution.
- Find the Place Where You Stand Closer to Common Ground: There is always a common truth somewhere in what two people believe. Sometimes it just takes a bit of conversation to find it.
My daughter went to college and graduated with a degree in social-justice advocacy. She has learned to see everything from the perspective of others. Now it is she that often reminds me of the other points of view in this complicated world of opinions. I like to think all of those conversations as she grew up made her the advocate for others that she can be. She's learned to use these strategies above to understand the truth of the person sitting beside her. Her experiences have helped her to develop skills for handling difficult conversations. She weighs her words carefully, asks thoughtful questions, and works to level the conversation.
We certainly live in a time where people hold tightly to their truths, but what could be improved if we learned to listen more when our truths aren't the same?