folk freedom Sep 23, 2020

We live in a world full of a wide range of perspectives and points of view, and at SheFactor, we celebrate these differences. Even within our SheFactor community, each of us have an entirely different background, whether it’s where we grew up, the individual experiences we’ve had throughout our lives, or the values we’ve come to hold close. With so many varying backgrounds comes a variety of different opinions -- whether it’s the way you prefer to organize your clothes, or your personal opinion on the best type of food. So when faced with a difference in opinion, how do we embrace those differences, give ourselves perspective, and create a space where we are free to be ourselves within our friendships? 


First off, acknowledge your differences -- you’re not going to stop being besties with your girl because she’s a lover of cats, even though you can’t stand them, right?! It’s not uncommon for opposites to attract in the world of love, nor is it far-fetched for some of your friendships to be built on uncommon ground. So, it’s important to take the extra steps needed to honor those differences, because our differences lead to deeper discussions about the things we disagree on, and in turn, cultivate more meaningful connections. 


Learning to agree to disagree starts with respect. Respect your friends and where they’re coming from when they present an opinion that’s different than yours. As disagreements arise, approach them with an open mind, and exercise empathy. Make an effort to truly listen, and understand the reasoning behind their viewpoints. Be humble enough to admit when you’re exposed to something new, and take it as an opportunity to do your research so you can come educated on the issue at hand next time you discuss. You may learn something new, and your friends will appreciate feeling heard! 


On the flip side, you can explain your point of view as well, while making sure to do so in a respectful way. When presenting your perspective, avoid using absolutes like “always” and “never.” Leave the conversation open to dialogue, so it doesn’t feel like you’re lecturing. Avoid taking on an accusatory tone, and make it about you -- your perspective, your opinions, your point of view. When you express yourself you make it personal, rather than going on the offensive and offending someone in the process. After fully expressing your thoughts on the matter, you can open up the conversation by asking questions about their opinion, and encouraging them to feel welcome to add to the conversation. This could include using language such as “what,” “how,” or “at the same time...” 


Why even bother with these conversations? Because being exposed to the knowledge presented by different viewpoints will help you grow as a person while strengthening the bond you share with your friend. As we get to know our friends more deeply, we will be made more aware of our differences, and those differences are an opportunity to build a more solid foundation for our friendships. 


Open yourself to the opportunity to learn something new, by making an effort to understand opinions outside your own. Together, we can celebrate the individuality that leads to our differences. At its core, this is a form of diversity and one that is close to home among our friendships. So as we dive into a month that’s all about freedom, foster a positive atmosphere for diverse discussions to happen. Doing so will make us better thinkers, continued learners, and better people, together.