Someone Else’s Shoes

As a companion to the post from the other day on Constant Battle, there's something I also found to be very useful, that is, that understanding your "adversary" is almost as important as the facts of the issue itself.  I'm sure you have heard the adage about "walking a mile in someone else's shoes", but I can reassure you, that if you can appreciate the opposing viewpoint to your discussion and you can see the issue from the other person's perspective, it can really help you to engage that person and possibly even defuse any ticking bombs lying under the surface.

In researching a paper I was writing over five years ago, I found a great article by Montgomery McFate in Joint Forces Quarterly, titled "The Military Utility of Understanding Adversary Culture".  Looking at some of the "battles" I have fought over my years, I found that after reading this article and putting some of the lessons learned by the military into practice, I have been more successful in winning people over.

A couple of weeks ago, our parish priest, Father Chris, gave a homily on a similar theme.  In talking about missionaries over the last centuries, he pointed out that often success came as a result of appreciation for the differences in culture and embracing those differences, while educating on the issue at hand.  Something else he said, however, stuck with me; he observed that oftentimes, in today's society, people feel victimized if someone feels differently than they do.

Instead of standing your ground resolutely on every issue and insisting that because others feel differently than you do, that they are absolutely wrong, maybe its time to reflect on what others think in regard to our issues to understand why it is they think the way they do. If we can see the problem from where someone else is standing, it might give us a better approach to solving our problems.

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