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How to have conversations with people who have a different opinion than you

There is no shortage of topics that bring strong opinions, especially as we get closer to the Presidential election, continue to deal with COVID-19, and navigate working and learning from home. With strong opinions can come difficult conversations. 

Lisa Mitchell, Communications Expert & Founder of Power Body Language, shares a few tips to navigating conversations with people who have different opinions than you. 

1. Assume Good Intentions  

It’s OK that people have strong opinions. It’s OK that their opinion may be different than yours. It doesn’t mean that they are incapable or unwilling to engage in meaningful dialogue so enter into those interactions assuming you both have good intentions for productive conversation. Most people, at their core, really just want to feel seen, heard, and valued. 

2. Different Doesn’t Have To Mean Bad 

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Conversations, by nature, are meant for sharing information and data points. They can drive you towards a common goal or at the least, towards a shared understanding. Sometimes you may find yourself posted up on the polar opposite side of another person’s outlook and that doesn’t mean that either of are wrong or bad, it can just mean that you both are firmly rooted in your beliefs. 

There doesn’t have to be a winner and loser, there can just be genuine listening, thoughtful consideration, and respect of each other throughout the interaction. 

3. Show appreciation for the person even if you disagree with their opinion or viewpoint. 

Sometimes, if the topic is heated enough, it’s necessary to challenge yourself to separate your feelings for the person from your feelings about their opinion of a particular topic. It can be as simple as saying something like, “I don’t think we are going to find common ground on this topic but I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts with me.” 

You don’t have to fight every battle on differing opinions and you don’t have to disrespect or discount the person offering the differing opinion when you can’t find common ground. 

 Visit www.powerbodylanguage.com or connect on Instagram at @lisamitchellindy.

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