Only you can have a full and complete picture of your truth; what you are feeling, what you are experiencing, the journey that you have been on. The same is true for everyone else. They will each hold their own truth.
Courage to understand
No matter how much you might believe that someone is being unfair, led by cognitive biases or failing to see the facts, remember that this is not their truth. Understanding their truth is not about agreeing with or accepting their position. Rather, it is about recognising where a person stands without either condoning or condemning.
It is about having the humility to acknowledge the forces in their lives that may have led them to adopt their position or behave in a particular way. Seeking to really understand someone’s truth is a deeply compassionate thing to do. It is not easy and takes courage.
The more that someone senses that you are genuinely seeking to understand their viewpoint, the more open they are likely to be to understanding yours. Through this, you create the basis for a constructive dialogue. A dialogue that is founded on mutual respect for each other’s truths.
Summarising the other person’s viewpoint back to them is a great way to make sure you have understood their position. It’s no surprise then that this approach is commonly used in formal mediation proceedings.
You could try something along the lines of “If I have understood you correctly, what you are saying is.….”. Once you are on the same page as them, you then have the opportunity to delve further, if you choose to.
Be curious! You might even find that the person might themselves reach a new understanding of where they stand through your curiosity.
It is too easy for us to cling dearly to our truths, while ignoring the feeling of certainty others might have about their truths. Through empathy and a genuine desire to understand their truth, a potentially adversarial encounter could become an opportunity for you both to learn and connect.
So, the next time you find yourself in a such a situation, challenge yourself to be compassionate enough to try and understand their truth.
Find out more about Harsha’s work