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  • Writer's pictureLet's Check-In

Living and Connecting in Complex Times

Why Magnify Differences When We Have So Much in Common - image courtesy of iStock

Somehow, life can be stuffed with a combination of wondrous moments and times of tragedy, the boring and the much less noteworthy. Everything can change on a dime – so goes one cliché. All things, good, bad, or indifferent are woven into the fabric of life and we share them with others because of our common humanity.

Most often, we fall into routines that are at the less than dramatic end of the spectrum – kind of basic. Yet, somehow even mundane day-to-day activities can wind up seeming important – particularly when there are differences in opinion or style. It’s strange how the average can have a magnified impact on daily life.

Think about sports fans, for instance. Contentious matters may seem kind of funny when it comes to sports rivalries like the Red Sox vs. the Yankees – especially before the former finally broke The Curse in 2004. When the stakes increase beyond bragging rights and include identity and inclusion, the average receives a mega dose of steroids. Look no further than politics, especially in the context of the presidential campaign. People can be extremely passionate about their opinions and their differences may serve as catalyst that can suck all the air out of a room.

Now, we all can be direct participants in specific events, observers at a distance, or hear about them as interested third parties. The most important element in the equation is that we must communicate effectively, and remember that we form bonds with others based on our common experiences.

This resonated with me when I read a piece in the New York Times in the about the impact that differences over politics had on a man reunited with his biological sister after a lifetime of not even knowing of their shared existence. I was struck not by the idea of their differing life experiences shaping their perspectives and how those views seemed to be polar opposites, that would be a given.

What touched me was the way that they chose to work things out because of the very real value that the re-established connection was clear to both parties, and how the real bottom-line was about that bond, not some political/ideological position held all too dearly.

We all want to be heard and have our opinions respected. This is critically important for young adults living independently for the first time, for hard-driving entrepreneurs creating their own businesses, for professionals at every stage spending much of their lives on the road, as well as for seniors. Each of these groups may have social supports, but may have few folks who empathize with them about the large battles and small skirmishes encountered along the way.

Let’s Check-In wants you to be able to connect and communicate with others and have them understand - if not necessarily agree with - your take on things. It is a critical part of everyone’s inner life and those exchanges are at the core of all that really matters,

So take the time to listen to people, even those you disagree with, and they (hopefully) will be more willing to listen to you. And then you may be able to find greater understanding.

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