The fact that we have differences should not be surprising. Everyone has differences with the individuals s/he meets. The question is not if but when. What varies as we recognize our differences is what we do with them.
The reaction to a disagreement between two of us that work together was traditional. There was the vocal group that wanted us to find common ground at all cost. They did not care about our answer. They were not worried about the risk of either or both of us getting it wrong. The only thing that mattered was consensus.
The other two groups agreed that fighting was the right answer. One said fight hard to win or lose quickly. The other group said that I should concede defeat and push the responsibility (blame) totally to the other side.
As I looked at the options, I realized there was more. Fighting fell into the trap that many have gone down before me. Paul said one controversial phrase, and “the moment he said this, the council split right down the middle, Pharisees and Sadducees going at each other in heated argument.” (Acts 23.7) Fighting is rarely the best answer.
Ignoring truth and responsibility is often the requirement to a quick consensus. If either is important, giving in for the same of an agreement is not the right answer.
The alternative was to honor and respect the debate while standing firm on what one believes is true. This route required more patience than I normally have. The option demanded a quiet, assured response.
In this round, the benefits were quickly realized. The fact that we did not fight means we have the strength and willingness to work on common group. The process of offering mutual respect and listening gave birth to a new conversation that feels like a dialogue. We are both hearing more than we were.
It is hard to step out of the traditional responses and try new ground. I know it does not always pay immediate dividends. With the right intent, it offers us the possibility of hope.