In the intensity that we bring to life, it is easy to miss important questions put on the table. It is as if the need to defend territory (viewpoints) is so strong that we lose sight of the importance of moving forward. Expanding our visions requires that we explore questions that do not fit within our current answers.
In a quiet voice, a colleague asked an obvious question. We anticipate hiring several new individuals. Our debate over the size of the team has become a veil that hides several unasked questions. A starting one was the obvious. Where are they going to sit? No matter what the answer, more questions will follow.
Being willing to hear takes courage. In doing so, one embraces the idea that whatever one was defending will stand on its own. It also assumes, that the heart of the debate is about doing the right thing. When I think of prior gems emerging in heated conversations, I wonder if anyone was willing to take the risk.
In one case, with a wisdom father standing in the middle, “a huge and noisy quarrel broke out. Then some of the religion scholars on the Pharisee side shouted down the others: ‘We don’t find anything wrong with this man! And what if a spirit has spoken to him? Or maybe an angel? What if it turns out we’re fighting against God?’” (Acts 23.9) Was the debate about truth or one side’s view?
In our debate, I have been forced to examine my motives. What was the source of my passionate intensity? In this case, I found the following wisdom points.
Being willing to examine the questions, gives each party an opportunity to move towards common ground.
Letting one’s position sit undefended makes it more accessible to others. They can ask questions without fear of attack.
Exploring more is always greater than gaining an agreement on a view. More includes moving forward. It also means that we will reach for understanding and community.
In the conflict, I found myself standing next to hope. Impossible is possible.