“The most important trip you may take in this life is meeting people halfway.” (Henry Boyle) – as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog recently.
The ability and flexibility to meet people halfway in life is comprised of equal parts of empathy, humility, intelligence and faith and is an extremely important and valuable part of making life better for you and the people that you meet. If you always try playing life as a win-losing zero sum game, you will soon find yourself playing alone. Everyone that you meet wants to win, too; so the real secret to a successful and satisfying life is finding ways to make every situation a win-win for all parties involved.
Creating win-win scenarios doesn’t necessarily require that you lose. Meeting people half way isn’t losing, it is allowing both of you to win. As a society that has become a lot harder lately, because opposing views have hardened and compromise has taken on an undesirable meaning that is associated more with losing than with everybody finding a win out of the situation. Our political process, especially at the national level has effectively broken down because of the inability of the parties to compromise and the increasing polarization of those we elected to govern. They cannot govern because they cannot compromise. To them politics and the decisions that they control is a win-lose game.
Life doesn’t have to be like that; your life doesn’t have to be like that. Psalm 34:4 says – “God met me more than halfway, he freed me from my anxious fears.” It’s those anxious fears that sometimes drive us to stand back or shy away rather than even try to understand someone else’s point of view. It is our own insecurities that make us cling to old, outdated or bigoted stereotypes, rather than to take the chance of embracing someone new. Perhaps you can meet them half way.
Keep in mind that the other person is also moving away from their comfort zone in order to meet you in the middle. They may be having just as hard of a time seeing your point of view as you are having trying to seeing theirs. If you can start with the thought that neither point of view is right or wrong, just different; then, perhaps, you can take the next step and consider that things might look different from their vantage point and that may drive different decisions or behaviors. Maybe you’ll even have an “aha” moment in which you finally understand their perspective. You don’t have to embrace it, just accept that it exists. You don’t have to go all the way there; you can usually see it, if you’ll just meet them half way.
So take a few little side trips as you journey through life and find out how other people live by meeting them halfway on things. Who knows; you might even like their point of view, once you understand it. You’ll never know until you try.