Over the past several weeks there have been many protests across the United States. These protests are about free speech, white supremacy, black lives matter, equal rights and other ideologies people believe are important to call one-self an American. It has been interesting and heart-breaking to watch the unfolding of these events.
Last night I was thinking about all the relationships I have built over the years. Some of my friends are very conservative. They love President Trump, have a conceal and carry permit, vote Republican and consider themselves part of the political right wing. Some of my other friends are very liberal. They can’t stand President Trump, they go to rallies carrying rainbow flags, vote Democrat and consider themselves part of the political left wing.
So many views, so many opinions… how do we get past all of the differences and become a people and a community God has created us to be? Here are three steps to having a peaceful conversation with someone with different views.
Listen Twice As Much As You Speak
There is an old saying that goes: “God gave you two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak”. There is truth and wisdom to that. When you are having a conversation with someone you disagree with, are you guilty of any of these?
You are constantly thinking about what you are going to say next
You act like you are listening, but really you are in defensive mode and only care about making your own points
You interrupt and talk over the other person while they are speaking
If you have done any of the above, it might be time to intentionally start practicing your listening skills.
James 1:19 – “You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger”
Speak Calmly and Respectfully
I think we all have been in or witnessed a conversation that gradually becomes more and more intense. Voices slowly become louder, words become more intense, and the next thing you know… it’s a verbal battle. After the event you walk way confused and wonder how things got so out of control. Did anyone win? Was anything really settled?
Speaking calmly and respectfully to someone who you are in disagreement with will do three things. First, it tells the other person that you hold them as someone of value. Their opinion and feelings are worth being heard. Second, it gives the other person a template of how to treat you. If you show respect in a calm way, hopefully so will they. Third, it will save the friendship and dissipate any awkwardness or resentment held towards each other.
Proverbs 15:1 – “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
Focus On What You Have In Common
When you know someone who believes differently than you about politics, race, equality and other social justice issues, it is difficult to think you could have anything in common. It takes work to find common ground. It could be a sport, a hobby, kids, or if you are both Christians that common ground is Jesus.
Common ground gives both people a reason to move forward in the friendship. Common ground gives each person a conversation topic to fall back on when disagreements happen. Focusing on common ground builds unity and gives the relationship a space to grow.
Psalm 133:1 - How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!
We all have people in our lives that we don’t see eye to eye with, but we can do our best to keep peace in our friendships by listening well, speaking respectfully and finding common ground.
The Table is a Christian Church in Davenport, Iowa, pursuing transformation:
from greed toward generosity
from violence toward peacemaking
from isolation toward neighborliness
from fear toward faith
Worship Sundays at 5pm
102 E. 2nd St.
Davenport, IOWA 52803