Polarity exists for a specific reason. The figure eight can be a great example for understanding how polarity works. When you draw the figure eight, try to spin an object around the shape. When the object gets to the two opposite ends, you feel the frequency higher at the two polar ends. If you want to reduce the polarity you have to tighten the circle and increase the speed ratio of each spin to reduce the object’s polarity at the two ends. The human brain works in a polarized way. The left side is created to oppose the right side. We do not understand ourselves enough to reduce the polarity between the right and the left sides, but polarity exists for a good reason: to enable us to value what exists between the polarized ends.
A bridge builder is someone who can see an issue that has a gap to be filled and step in to make humanity stronger. Building bridges is extending a hand to people and communities in need that have no relationship with you. Men helping women to bridge the wage gap, America helping Guatemala to bridge the inequality gap, straight people helping gay people end discrimination. Helping only your kind is self-serving, but helping people who are at the opposite end of your polarity is bridge building, and all people coming together to fight for the human race is standing for humanity. There is no one way of doing this -- we do this by listening to each other, having a robust conversation and lending our voices, time and energy to protect humanity.
STRATEGIES TO REDUCE POLARITY
Is there even hope? How can we fight through this and achieve the desired result? I will describe three strategies.
Never start from a position of assuming that you understand a person’s reasons for refusing to change. Ambivalence about change is normal and often a big obstacle for change. Introducing a new idea or concept to someone requires time for the person to process the new information. Because we live in a world where instant gratification is a big deal, it takes patience to understand that people are not always jumping on totally new ideas because of the pressure bubble, and that they are given enough time to process the information before they can become argumentative.
THREE WAYS TO HELP AMBIVALENT PEOPLE MAKE DECISIONS QUICKER
Make them feel heard.
Give them enough information to understand and process the information.
Engage them in the decision-making process.
STRATEGIES TO REDUCE POLARITY
(i) Express Empathy. Listen to what people have to say about what you want them to change. Imposing directions and judgements rather than listening reflectively creates barriers that impair the process of change. Empathy does not mean that because you have had similar experiences you totally understood another person’s situation. For example: “I have been through what you are going through so I understand you.” Yes, you may have gone through what they have gone through, but their particular situation is different.
(ii) Recognize Diversity Feeling you understand someone does not translate to that person feeling truly understood. People’s behavior is informed by diversity in religious beliefs, family beliefs, cultural beliefs and political beliefs. These belief systems may compete with the change you want them to embrace. They are competing “wants” – the values people have compete with the changes they want. You need to help them see reasons why a particular change is beneficial to them.
(iii) Avoid Argumentation- The goal is to work with people to enact change, rather than drag them toward it. Arguing provokes a defensive response from the person you want to change or teach a new idea to.
(iv) Support Self-Sufficiency- People are likely to try something new if they believe they are going to succeed. This step empowers the decision-maker, helping them believe in their ability to fulfill a set task. Provide lots of information to people to help them achieve positive change and provide role models who have gone through a similar change process. Break the change process into smaller attainable steps. For example, I have not visited the gym in the last five years, but now I am going once a week. Not going before and now going once a week adds up to a positive difference of 52 days a year versus zero in the last 365.
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