Several years ago I had a conversation with a mediator colleague about honesty. We agreed that, despite media sensation and police warnings, people usually do the right thing. Deceit takes far more energy than honesty. I’ve been around the world and find most people do not choose to live with conflict, mistrust and deceit. Humans have an innate desire for peace. Truthfulness preserves harmony. So, why do we assume the worst in people?
In my early 20s, I wasn’t interested in school violence prevention. I had big ideas about contributing to world peace. After serving in the Peace Corps, I worked on a Master’s in international development, focused on conflict resolution. This was in the early 90s, before “Columbine” was associated with a high school massacre. An internship in the heart of America changed my worldview.
You may be a really good communicator, but if you use “but” in the way I just did in this sentence, think again. Doing so just negated the positive sentiment I tried to convey in the first half of that message. Even when you disagree with someone, there is a simple communication strategy you need to start using, to improve the way you engage in the most difficult conversations.