It cannot be argued that for many people, the thought of trying to see or understand a perspective you feel is disingenuous, disrespectful and distressing is a hard sell. But the biggest problem is often in how that opposing perspective is delivered. Few people can hide their disdain on this particular issue, and on many others as well. That is not going to make anyone receptive to your POV. And frankly, if you do understand the whole of it, it creates a natural aversion to the opposing view. If you begin with, “Lincoln was a criminal” or “the north invaded” we are never going to find common ground because you disrespected me as your opening.

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Thanks for sharing your experience, the question, and your response.

It's been my experience that for most questions, the answer is "it depends". Your answer gets at that certainly.

A challenge I have is sitting in the discomfort of hearing something that I think I disagree with or I think I am supposed to disagree with. Listening without judgement is a skill that is hard to practice, but I try to do it. I try to go to clarifying questions like "tell me more" (because there well may be a context or story that would help me understand the position). Sometimes I try to say back what I think I'm hearing to check in.

The more I think I'm hearing a strong, political stance or pole of an argument, the less comfortable I am in doing that. That's sometimes about personal comfort or perceptions of risk or safety. And sometimes it's about my evaluation of how much or how little the person is willing to listen to or to think about additional information or perspectives.

The hardest thing in the world is to say "I may be wrong" or "you may be right". It can sometimes be a tool for engaging and learning more. Other times it can be a way to break away (and return to my space where I will comfortably pass my judgements about myself and the other all day long).

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