Difference of opinions? Show the Whole Picture
by Devora Krasnianski, founder of Adai Ad Institute
You want to go to your sister’s family for Shabbos; he prefers to daven in his own shul, learn with his chavrusa and sleep in his own bed. Neither option is any more right than the other – just two people with two different perspectives.
Of course, in the overall, you can work out a schedule of how often you visit others on Shabbos. For this example, we are talking about a specific Shabbos.
How might the conversation go? Bickering? “It’s my turn!” Blaming? “We always have to do what you want.” Accusing? “I just know you hate my family.”
There’s another way. Show the whole picture.
There’s no bickering, blaming, judging or pointing out what is wrong with the other person or even his ideas. Nor is there any proving that you are right.
Changing someone else’s mind is such difficult work. Showing them the whole picture can go a long way in helping someone see your perspective and possibly even changing their mind to match your ideas. Or, you just might come up with a totally new idea together.
It’s simple. Ok, but not easy.
Acknowledge the validity of the other’s point of view
Lead them to discover the other side of their argument
Most likely, there is something valuable in the other person’s point of view. So first you should admit what they are right about. “I totally get that you’re so much more comfortable in your own shul and your own home. And that it is such a long trip.”
Then, you should gradually reveal the other side to them, which is the part he may have not observed. “At the same time, I really want to see my sister and her family. We haven’t seen them in 6 months already. The kids don’t have school on Sunday, so this Shabbos makes the most sense for a long time. I know the trip is not the easiest, nonetheless, I think it is important for the cousins to spend time together.”
In this way, you are not dismissing his thoughts or feelings or comfort; you are acknowledging them. And at the same time, you are showing him the fuller picture of why it makes sense to go away this particular Shabbos.
He won’t be offended by such an approach. You are not trying to prove that he is wrong. You are not judging him or his intentions. You are not bludgeoning him with your ideas. Rather, you are helping him see other sides that he perhaps had not seen until then.
Of course, your tone and body language and timing are all important. Others will feel better and consider what you want them to think about if you sound more friendly and suggestive.