Differences do happen. They are part of our life. We all have differences within our family too, with our children, between husband and wife and with grandparents and among siblings too. Wherever there is a little bit of intellect, differences are bound to be there because of our capability of looking at the same thing from different angles.
Differences are not bad, in fact they are good. They help in the progress of organizations as we come to know different aspects of the same problem from different angles. Different ways of thinking sometimes lead to innovation and creativity. They can lay the foundation of strong and stable organizations provided our differences don’t degenerate to disputes.
Differences cause damage only when we are not able to appreciate the other’s point of view. We become judgemental too early. These differences make this world beautiful and interesting. We can have minor differences that we can easily manage. Just ignore them, live with them and in fact I say celebrate those differences. But then there are times when we have to sort out our differences within the family or the organization or the society for amicable coexistence. There could be some major differences which may hamper the progress of an organization if not resolved. Similarly, some major differences may disrupt the peace of a family if not resolved.
I have a firm belief that we can dissolve all our differences through dialogue. The only condition is that we should have an open mind to respect diversity and divergent views and dignity of the other party. We should initiate dialogue without any preconceived notions. We should not let the dialogue to degenerate into heated debate and discussions that we see everyday these days on various TV news channels. The dialogue should happen in a cordial manner with respect and dignity for the other party. Dialogue should be aimed at fostering mutual insight and common purpose. The process of dialogue involves listening with maturity and empathy, searching for common ground and exploring new ideas and perspectives. Our shoulders should be broad enough to embrace criticism and try to convert that into collaboration by even co-opting the ideas of the other party if possible.
Any continuation of dialogue will ensure that our communication channels don’t break down and there is always a hope for the solution. Disruption of dialogue will only increase the barriers leading to mistrust and then enemity and hatred. So we must keep talking and may be more about our commonalities first and then the areas of very minor differences which can be solved easily. These may be called confidence building measures between the two parties. We can build bridges and strong bonds even with the people who outwardly look very dissimilar. We should not burn those bridges because of a few odd differences. Differences will start disappearing as we focus more on the commonalities.
There is a time when we must put an end to a debate on issues that don’t lead us anywhere and instead concentrate on issues that are common to all of us. When Modi ji became the PM of India in 2014, he tried his best to resolve the long pending differences with Pakistan through dialogue with his counterpart Miyan Nawaz Sharif, the PM of Pakistan. He talked of our common problems; the poverty, the illiteracy, the hunger and many more. He stressed on the need of joining hand instead of fighting to tackle these common problems. His idea was that once collaboration starts on a large number of areas between the two countries and they see the benefits of staying together as good neighbours, their rigid stands even on the tricky issues of Kashmir etc. will mellow down. But it takes two hands to clap.
Dialogue has the power to dissolve long-standing differences. The process of dialogue has become more significant in modern times when we observe confrontation between different castes, creeds, religions and cultural outfits. Families are crumbling because of total absence of dialogue and minimal interaction and that too at times through WhatsApp and FB. The digital world has its own pros and cons. It has given rise to a lot many virtual relations and friendships and snatched genuine face to face interactions. The world requires today that people can communicate across differences.
Let us try to stop the fragmentation of society into a myriad of subsets based on profession, status, race, religion and even political leanings. Genuine dialogue devoid of any closed mindset can enable people find a pathway to common ground. Dialogue can prove to be the most effective way to allow people to dissolve their differences and forge new bonds of friendship based on our commonalities. Dialogue with the deprived sections of the society who were formerly excluded from the decision making process, can help in bringing them in the main stream.
Dialogue gives an opportunity to build bridges. Dialogue enables finding the common ground and establishing priorities for action even among the warring sections. Remember that effective dialogue requires that all the participants have equal standing. The participants in the dialogue listen to others with mutual respect, empathy and dignity. Ideas and assumptions are explored openly and without being judgmental in an effective dialogue. People will have to remove their coloured glasses before commencing any dialogue to be effective, meaningful and fruitful.
As the world is moving into times of accelerating change and facing VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) environment, it is even more important that we learn to have meaningful dialogue. We need to be able to overcome differences, find common ground, build meaning and purpose, and set directions together through dialogue. We should shun solitude and think together, talk together, walk together and perform together as groups, as teams, as committees, as communities, and as citizens of this beautiful world.
So the Mantra for the New World order is Dialogue, Dialogue and Dialogue. And that alone shall dissolve all our difference plaguing this world otherwise we may have to face another world war which may be many times more destructive and disastrous than the previous ones.