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Election Day has brought to light a number of differences in our country and has showcased the truly best and worst behaviors of people that live in the United States. While I am not here to condemn or embrace the outcome of the election, what I am concerned about is our ability to work together and find some common ground. The day after the election I traveled to Atlanta, GA to attend the Grant Professionals Association Annual Conference. It was truly humbling to be surrounded by others from different parts of the country (red and blue states) who share a common goal of improving public welfare and mission-driven organizations and government entities. We are all different and have divergent political views, but people all collaborated and found a way to embrace our shared experience of helping the nonprofit and government sectors.

I would like to take this ethos and apply this in our lives, both personally and professionally. The importance of working together towards progress cannot be underestimated. So, what are the common issues and concerns that we all have? I have identified some commonalities that I think we can all embrace:

  • smartphone-1445489_640The safety and well-being of our families and loved ones
  • Quality education for our children and healthcare for all
  • A strong economy that supports people of all income levels
  • Employment opportunities for people at all income levels

I realize that everyone has different notions and approaches as to how these can be achieved. However, I will caveat that we need to compromise and try to gain other perspectives to enhance our understanding of issues and the experiences of other people. Sometimes it takes sitting around a table and working towards a common goal. As a grants consultant, I do this all the time, and I often learn more by listening than applying my own reasoning to the conversation at the outset.

What are some questions you can ask if you were to sit at a table with others with whom your perspectives diverged?

  • What are we both trying to achieve (regarding this particular topic/area of interest)?
  • Why do you believe strongly in this topic or issue?
  • What would you do to try to resolve this issue?
  • What do you think I should know that can help inform my opinion?
  • Where should I go to learn more about this?
  • What are some things that we can agree on to move this forward?

I know that these are not easy conversations to have, but maybe a good start is talking to your neighbor or a colleague. It takes a small step. What will you do to start a conversation?

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