Finding Common Ground

Published in

Date:

September 1, 2022

Author:

Milan Kordestani

Entrepreneur, writer, and founder of 3 purpose-driven companies oriented toward giving individuals control over their own discourse and creation. Milan works to produce socially positive externalities through a mindset of social architecture.

Hi! I'm Milan, an LA based founder and writer, architecting impact-first businesses.

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A fundamental mindset shift that has helped me scale three successful startups from scratch is always looking for the best in people. This doesn’t mean I haven’t encountered conflict; which entrepreneur hasn’t? But I’ve always prioritized giving every person a fair chance to speak. Looking back, that has made all the difference in my journey.

Every person you meet has a unique perspective. Their personal life experiences, upbringing, and current situation determine their worldview. As a result, people see things differently and hold varying beliefs. This difference in thought is the primary cause behind conflicts.

Finding common ground enables you to find a mutually beneficial solution for both parties. You build trust and forge strong bonds with people who don’t share your mentality. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how you can find common ground during conflicts.

What Does Finding Common Ground Mean? 

Not everyone thinks, feels, or acts the same way as you do. You might find a few kindred souls who resonate with your thoughts, but most people won’t. Conflicts will inevitably arise. You must find common ground to protect your relationships. It’s a practice where you discover a topic, opinion, or perspective you both can agree upon. It allows you to see where the other person is coming from and better appreciate their point of view.

Civil discourse is an excellent tool for finding common ground. It allows you to create a non-confrontational environment where:

  • everyone can freely express themselves,
  • listen carefully to each other, and
  • show respectful disagreement.

Establishing a common ground doesn’t mean you have to agree on everything. You may share some interests with the other person, but other issues can still separate you. However, seeking mutual ground will help bridge the divides that pull you apart.

The Importance of Finding Common Ground

Locating a mutual ground ensures that both parties understand each other’s perspectives and strive to find the best possible solution to resolve the conflict. Here are some reasons why finding common ground is essential:

  • Builds strong relationships

Conflict pushes people apart. Establishing a common solution helps maintain relationships even amid disagreements. People develop strong bonds and build trust when they’re aligned toward a shared goal.

  • Resolves conflict quickly

You can resolve conflicts when you understand the depth of an issue. People’s viewpoints differ due to their unique identities. However, establishing common ground allows you to analyze both opinions without bias to arrive at a mutually agreeable solution.

  • Increases Open-mindedness

To resolve arguments, you must be open to opposing ideas. Conducting civil discourse helps all the parties to adopt a flexible mind toward varying perspectives. This allows you to quickly attain common goals.

  • Prevents opinion polarization

Everyone has a different approach to solving the same problem. However, sometimes, people counter the other person’s strategy to prove their solution right. Common ground prevents both parties from vehemently opposing each other’s opinions. It aligns everyone to focus on achieving the shared outcome. 

Civil Discourse: The Ultimate Strategy for Finding Common Ground

During an argument, people defend themselves to protect their egos. This further escalates the conflict. To resolve an issue, you need to constructively approach it so everyone can feel respected. Engaging in civil discourse lets you understand what matters to the other person.

Civil discourse enables a productive exchange of ideas. It helps both parties figure out what’s important to them. Such conversation allows people to express their views without rancor. It gives rise to mutual respect and reinforces people’s right to hold their beliefs.

Everyone must honestly present their thoughts to quickly find the middle ground. No one needs to downplay or overstate their ideas. Carefully listen to other people, ask questions, and show respectful disagreement whenever necessary.

Civil discourse lays down the stepping stone to align different visions and find common ground faster. Read on for the steps you must follow to tackle conflicts smartly.

Steps for Finding Common Ground 

As an entrepreneur, it’s essential to learn how to find common ground with your team. Learning this will foster a sense of teamwork and help your business grow. 

Here are the steps you can take to find common ground in any conflict:

  • Establish the tone with small talk

Small talk is a great way to break the ice. When you meet someone new, make a connection by talking about food, drinks, music, and hobbies. Talk about all the activities that allow you to experience commonality. It will create a comfortable environment where you can efficiently conduct civil dialogue with the other person.

  • Listen actively

Civil discourse ensures things don’t get heated up during a disagreement. You have to listen, take mental notes and be willing to embrace new opinions. An active listener focuses on what the other person is saying, not what they want to say next. Use non-verbal language like nodding or establishing eye contact to show you’re genuinely listening to them. 

  • Begin a more profound conversation by asking questions

Once the other person expresses themselves, ask open-ended questions to dig deeper into the conversation. Encourage them to speak freely and listen without interrupting them. Their answers will help you understand their side of the story and reach the common ground faster.

  • Don’t be overly judgmental.

As humans, we naturally have biases about other people. Recognizing what triggers you to be judgmental or critical of others is vital. Focus on the current topic and don’t delve into judgments during the discussion.

  • Be empathic to their perspective.

Everyone holds different opinions based on their idea of reality. Listen to their point of view, and consider the facts and opinions they present. Ask questions when you need elaboration. They might say something that makes you rethink your approach.

  • Be authentic

Avoid being confrontational when speaking your mind. Frame your thoughts using “I” statements. Explain how you feel and why you feel that way. The goal isn’t to prove that you’re right. It’s about sharing your stance that helps the other person comprehend where you’re coming from. This establishes the common ground both people are comfortable with. 

How To Find Common Ground With Friends and Family

Civil discourse not only enriches the workplace but also helps you locate common ground with your friends and family. When you establish a shared goal with people, you resolve conflicts faster and co-exist in harmony even with diverse opinions. This strengthens your bonds and develops mutual respect.

Here are some steps that will help you find common ground with friends and family:

  • Respond, don’t react

Listen carefully to the other person. Their opinions might trigger your emotions, and you may feel the temptation to counter them. But don’t. Strive to understand their perspective before reacting. Ask questions to ensure you’ve understood their points correctly. Remember that you’re looking for common ground, not ways to disagree further.

  • Keep calm during the argument.

You can easily become defensive when you disagree with someone close to you. Remind yourself to stay calm and take deep breaths. Don’t respond with rage regardless of the temptation. If the other person gets upset, calm them down and revisit the topic when things settle down.

  • Express your feelings

If your friend has a different perspective, talk to them about it. Don’t assume they know what you think or feel. They cannot read your mind. You must help them understand your stance and why you believe in it. This will let the other person do the same and help you reach an understanding.

  • Focus on solving the conflict, not on winning the argument 

You will experience disagreements no matter how close you are to friends or family. When diverse views arise, know that it’s normal. Don’t disregard their beliefs or try to prove your thoughts are correct. Patiently listen to the other person and be curious to know why they think what they think. The goal is to solve the conflict, not to win the fight.

Conclusion

Diverse views are expected. They arise regardless of the situation and people involved. This thought difference often leads to conflicts, which can sabotage relationships if not handled well. That’s why finding common ground that mutually benefits all parties is vital. When people know they’re working towards the same goal, they don’t obsess over their views. They listen to diverse opinions that help reach the goal faster. Civil discourse is a great way to establish a mutual ground amid a conflict. Ask everyone to share their views and agree to disagree with opposing ideas.

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