In today's global and interconnected world, there is an urgent need to build bridges between people of different cultures, faith, traditions, and worldviews.
Building bridges starts within your own circle of influence; your family and friends, your local community, your colleagues at work, etc.
The quality of your relationships is built upon your ability to communicate with others through genuine dialogue.
Think of the process of dialogue as a bridge. A bridge has 4 solid anchor points. In order to build bridges to other people, there are 4 anchor points or qualities that need to be in place. When all these qualities are present, every conversation has the potential to be transformed into dialogue.
There needs to be a high level of mutual trust. The only way to build a high level of trust is by building rapport with the other person.
Have you ever talked with someone and for some reason felt you couldn't trust that person? What was missing? Were you able to honestly open up with that person? Probably not.
In order to engage in a genuine dialogue with one another, we need to treat each other as equals. Often you see people in positions of authority deceive themselves into thinking that they are treating people as equals, when they are actually not doing so. It takes more than a round table to create the kind of equality needed to establish a true dialogue.
Empathy is the ability to listen at a deeper level. It's the ability to walk in someone else's shoes. Listening with empathy is the ability to understand someone else's thoughts and feelings, without judgment. The moment we judge, we push aside any opportunity for positive change.
Many personal and business relationships break down because people lack the skill, motivation, or the patience to truly listen at a deeper level. Understanding precedes change.
4. Bringing assumptions and beliefs into the open
Have you ever assumed something about someone or something and later found out that you were completely wrong? The beliefs we hold and the assumptions we make define our highly conditioned view of the world.
When you are able to speak openly and honestly about the beliefs you hold and the assumptions you make, you can build a deeper understanding based on mutual respect.
In many personal conflicts, it is often about values and beliefs, not people. The values we hold are expressed through the beliefs that support them.
When you build trust, listen with empathy, and are willing to talk openly about assumptions, you will create an opening for mutual understanding that cannot be created any other way.