Singapore has celebrated her 56th birthday this month and this reminds us of how far our country has progressed! While we have had measurable success in living peacefully as a multi-racial and multi-religious society. Yet, as a global society, from time to time it is common for us to struggle with navigating differences in cultures, opinions, or worldviews that vary from ours.
We face this in the workplace, at home, or amongst our friend groups. Given that our everyday exchanges with friends, colleagues, and family do not just impact our own levels of wellbeing, esteem, and sense of belonging but also that of others, navigating differences in perspectives is key to broadening our social circle and achieving more satisfying relationship outcomes.
We understand in navigating differences, some disagreements are easier to resolve (or overlook) than others; more significant topics such as race and gender can be a little harder to talk about, especially when we have friends and family who hold opposing beliefs or beliefs we think are morally wrong.
When, how, and should we even start navigating differences? How can we maintain peace in our relationships while broaching sensitive topics?
First, understand WHY our beliefs are important to us.
- Many of our perspectives are formed from our reservoir of lived experiences and personal life lessons. Hearing something opposing might make us feel like our lived experiences are invalidated, and we may take these disagreements personally.
- Some of our perspectives are regarding a cause we support with the buy-in of people needed to spark the social change we hope for. Having people disagree with us might cause us to feel frustrated, as we might perceive their opinions to be a large contributing cause for deeply seated societal problems.
So yes, our views matter a lot to us – we tend to feel strongly about them, especially if we have had personal experiences which led us to believe certain things. Yet, this is the same way the people with opposing beliefs are thinking! Everyone has vastly different experiences and reasons for their perspectives.
So… Here’s HOW we can bring up our opinions while showing consideration to others.
Navigating differences is possible.
Let us speak only when we know we are ready to first listen.
Let us speak only when we are sure we won’t be overly emotional.
Let us speak only when we are willing to wait.
Let us speak only when we are open to the idea of agreeing to disagree.