In my last post, I described three steps we can take to improve our interaction with people who have values different from our own: (1) focus on ‘business issues’ rather than ‘personal issues’; (2) clarify the value differences and (3) be empathetic and genuinely try to understand the other person. Here are 2 additional steps that will improve your interactions:
1. Be accepting of the other person. Acceptance refers to a willingness to support and validate the other person, to have positive regard, and to remain non-judgmental, even in circumstances where you do not agree. This is much easier said than done because we all have a tendency to judge others. And we often do so based on how much that person’s values are similar to our own. This is the essence of ethnocentrism. The problem is, if you approach value differences in this way, you will be unsuccessful in addressing the issues you have with the other person. It is imperative that you are willing to accept another individual’s right to be different. You don’t have to agree with the person’s way of thinking or doing things. Remember, acceptance does not mean agreement. It means you accept the individual’s right to his or her own beliefs.
2. Find some common ground between yourself and the other person. A final step you can take to improve communication across value differences is to actively seek common ground between yourself and your speaking partner. We have a tendency to focus on our differences when more often than not, we have a great deal in common. Identify those similarities and use this common ground to enhance and develop your professional relationship. By connecting with the other person on this level, you will greatly increase your chances of effectively dealing with any value differences you may have.
NEXT POST – January 6, 2009
Have a Wonderful and Safe Holiday Season!!!