I know it’s not rocket science or anything. Aren’t we all in some way different? Age, culture, beliefs, desires, personality… Have you noticed that it’s practically a national movement to embrace people’s differences. That is super exciting to me, and I feel it’s so important for us to encourage and celebrate our differences.
It seems to me, however, that in the call to embrace differences, we have become evermore expectant that people will agree with us and think the way that we do. So in the call to accept differences, we want people to be the same in thought. We want our communication to say all the same things as we seek to say that difference is to be celebrated. Hhhhmmmmmmm.
How do we say that we accept differences if we won’t accept differences in the most fundamental area that makes us human—our ability to think and communicate? We must embrace these differences as well by allowing them to exist, by seeking to understand rather than stifle, by inviting discourse, by listening.
Others’ varying opinions should not be a personal affront. I understand that we can be oppressed or harmed by others who have views that allow for hurt, but that’s not the differences that daily cause the anger and hatred that I witness. What people seem to hate is that others have different opinions than they do. That is hugely problematic.
We are communicating that our differences have to stop at the point of our ways of thinking, our ways of communicating. That’s not realistic or healthy for us as humans.
Working through Difference
We have to work to communicate through our differences while still honoring. And although the onus lies on the communicator to be impossible to misunderstand, the recipient has a responsibility too, to try to clearly understand.
Considering our differences of thought, special care should be taken to value and honor the other, whether we are the sender or receiver. No matter our differences, all of us want to be valued. You just will never go wrong by valuing people.
What I want is to impact people to want to honor, even when honor is not what they are receiving. It changes people. It seeds goodness. It makes a difference in bridging our differences. Why do others have to think like us? Why should we think less or more of them when they do or don’t?
Getting Difference Right
#theimpactdirective is to stop needing others to think just like you to feel good in your own opinion, to stop thinking ugly of others when their beliefs and opinions vary from your own, to stop stifling others who communicate ideas that aren’t congruent with yours. We have to learn to be confident in our own opinions and comfortable when others don’t agree. Just as we encourage acceptance of physical, racial, cultural differences, we MUST encourage acceptance of belief and opinion differences.
This IS something that we can work on. It is possible to get difference right.
Connie Benoit Sirois
Consultant | Writer | Speaker
We are called to love others as ourselves. Our communication gives us continual opportunities to do this. We should never miss a chance to honor others. I’d love for you to read about my mission.