We sometimes get into dialog with others, hoping that with enough discussion, we’ll be able to work out our differences and reconcile our conflicts.
In many situations, dialog works. We do work out our conflicts. And we’re all happier in the process.
In other situations, after weeks, months, years or decades, we might find that our conflict still remains and nothing’s been reconciled. Dialog has been futile.
We can see this in our pointless, futile political debates. But also in arguments we might have with friends and family in our lives.
Why does dialog work sometimes, and not work other times?
It boils down to whether we’ve established Common Ground in the first place.
What do we have in common with another? Which is, if nothing else, shared humanity, a desire to be happy, shared suffering, working towards a greater good, or experience of shared Truth.
Common Ground has to be established…and felt within us…as a prerequisite.
From here, from this base, with this established, we can start to find other commonalities as well. Soon, both sides are working to find what they share between us, rather than harping at what we think is fundamentally wrong with each other.
From there, conflict can get reconciled and we can talk about clarifying differences in a way that feels good. But first, we establish, either explicitly or implicitly, our Common Ground.