Do you ever avoid talking about the impact of wars around the world or the economic situation for fear it may turn into a debate, or even a full blown argument? If so, it's time for you to take back the power to have meaningful, enjoyable conversations with your friends.

If you're like most people, listening to the news these days can be quite stressful. It's hard not to worry about the impact of wars around the world, and the constant anxiety about the economic situation is bound to fill your mind with images of doom and gloom.

Do you ever want to relieve some of this stress by talking to a friend about these issues, but you avoid these talks for fear that simply bringing up these politically and emotionally charged topics may turn into a debate, or even a full blown argument?

If so, it's time for you to take back the power to have meaningful, enjoyable conversations with your friends. This starts by learning to overcome the fear that prevents you from talking about these issues in the first place.

The worry that wells up in us when we think about discussing such important, but emotionally charged issues, is rooted in the "Us Against Them" thinking that permeates our society.

When this kind of thinking is in charge, even simple differences of opinion can easily spiral down into the locked horns of an endless battle to determine who is right and who is wrong about the issue.

"Whenever two good people argue over principles, they are both right."
~Marie Ebner Von Eschenbach

Freedom - Think "WE"

You can root out this "Us Against Them" thinking by establishing a "WE mindset". This mindset allows you to have conversations about sensitive topics from a new, shared perspective--even when you have differing opinions.

A "WE mindset" starts by developing a sense of alignment with the other person--a shared sense of what is important about having the conversation in the first place. The first step in creating this alignment is to get clear about what's important to all participants in the conversation. This is done by creating a foundation for the conversation based on what each person values--not about the ISSUE, but about HAVING the discussion.

We suggest that before you have any important conversation, STOP and ask yourself these questions: "How would I like this conversation to go?" and, "How can we focus on what everyone values, rather than just debating our opinions?"

The way to maintain a "WE mindset" in your conversations is to focus less on the actual opinions you each hold, such as whether or not it's best for the US congress approve a specific tax policy, but instead by exploring the values are underlying your opinions.

You may be surprised to find that, even though you may hold very different opinions, each of your opinions expresses a commonly held value such as (for example): safety, security, or prosperity.

What Do You Both Values?

It's often surprising to find, when you go beyond people's opinions and discover their values, how often you find common ground. In our experience, you'll frequently discover that what others value is very similar to what you value. This alignment forms a wonderful foundation to explore any topic, and provides a valuable landmark to keep the discussion friendly and supportive, rather than it turning into a battle. And isn't that really what you were hoping for in the first place?

Discovering the alignment in your values allows you to have discussions where everyone's ideas are heard and respected, and where the purpose is to exchange information and gain clarity, rather than debating who is right about the topic.

Another benefit of an alignment based conversation is that everyone ends up feeling more satisfied. Everyone knows there is an opportunity to be heard and discover what's truly important to them. Creating this initial alignment is an essential element for enjoying the benefits of a "WE mindset" in your conversations, and in all your relationships.

Important Questions

The way to start this conversation is by letting let the person know you'd like to have a talk about an issue, and that you'd like to hear what's important to them about the topic. In addition, let them know that what's MOST important is that you'd like each person to be heard and understood about what's important to them about the issue. Then ask if that kind of conversation would be enjoyable for them as well.

You can get clear about this by having each person answer these two questions: "How do we want to treat each other during our conversation about this issue?" Followed by: "How can we find out what we each value that creates our opinions, rather than just arguing our side?"

Taking the time at the beginning of a conversation to acknowledge the values of each person involved, will establish a "WE mindset" that creates the possibility of much more meaningful, and enjoyable conversations with your friends.

Remember, the shortest path to a happy life is found through conscious choice.

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