Of course we often like to have a meaningful discussion with a person of a distinctly different point-of-view. This is in order to learn from their perspective, as well as share facets of our perspective…growing together in the process.
However, in our eagerness to share, we clumsily skip over the prerequisite in all human discussion: mutual human respect for one another. If we don’t respect them, let alone their views, emotions, or insights, and/or they don’t respect ours, any discussion is futile.
Dialogue requires first and foremost mutual respect for the person of those we seek to have a discussion with. This is the Common Ground upon which all further dialog is established.
We must respect the humanity of them, and they must respect the humanity of us, as a prerequisite to interacting, not as a result.
Respect doesn’t mean there are no blocks to dialog. There will always be some block or hesitation in any dialog, so long as we’re human. However, respect means a willingness to gradually, gracefully let our blocks down. Only when our blocks are lowered can actual insights be exchanged and true dialog can emerge.
Respect doesn’t mean we ever need or are obligated to cede our perspective. It simply means we’re ready to hear another perspective. This includes a readiness to make space in our heart for their sincere path, practice, hopes, dreams, and desires.
Respect, and the trust that it entails, go hand-in-hand.
If there’s no respect, there’s nothing of value for us, and nothing of value for others, to be gotten from the dialog. In fact, we’re not even going to be able to truly hear what another is intending to share. It becomes a futile interaction at best, a bitter and insult-laden dialog at worst.
So if we find ourselves in a situation where there isn’t mutual respect, we need to take a step back. Trying to get a point across is not possible. The walls will be impenetrable. Anything shared will be interpreted according to their biases. It’s a no-win situation.
If we’re not able to find respect initially, we must at least find something that we respect in another before we even begin to talk with them. If not possible, or even not reciprocated, better to not to engage in dialog to begin with.