When a discussion with someone near and dear can’t get over Impasse Hill, it may be time to drop the topic (at least temporarily) and detour around the mountain. Like Scarlett O’Hara, you can think about that tomorrow.
Anne Lamott, a Christian writer passionate about protecting women’s choice, tells of a conversation with a friend who is an equally passionate abortion foe. The talk hit a wall. Finally Ann proposed, “Look. Neither of us is going to convince the other. So why don’t we drop it and go together to serve dinner at the shelter for homeless families?”
I’ve always wondered how political commentators James Carville and Mary Matalin stay married. He’s a Democrat, she’s a Republican, and they share a cutting wit. Yet they seem to have found common ground. Maybe they write books together. If your dispute is political, could you sign up together to be poll watchers?
The point is to find a way to demonstrate that the relationship is more important than winning an argument, even a serious one. Take time to breathe, lower your voice, and work on your friendship. Maybe, like Ann, you can find an activity that demonstrates your joint commitment to a shared value, such as compassion.
If a joint service project feels too heavy, find a way to have fun together – lunch in a new place, a trip to your favorite art gallery, a movie you both want to see. How about a fundraising concert related to a cause you both support?
For instance if the matter involves aging, you might rent “Gran Torino” with 80-year-old Clint Eastwood – or watch the PBS special, “Young at Heart”, a rousing show with a cast of singers over 75. They will make you smile.
When we focus on keeping (or building) a stronger relationship, chances are a solution will emerge. With most issues, it’s ok to think about it tomorrow.
What’s your route around Impasse? Share your story!
Charles Stanfield says
Fighting an issue, as energizing as that may be, almost never resolves it. The only approach I can think of — to have your thought register in a disagrement is to ask, I wonder if you have/would consider this? Then, perhaps light shines through. And if one is really feeling adventurous one might inquire if your discussion partner thinks that you have missed a point and let them speak it.