Our life experiences inform and coalesce into the belief systems that guide our choices. When we come together with others—at home, in neighborhoods, in volunteers groups, or at work—our respective belief systems come into contact with those that others' hold. Those belief systems can be the catalyst for considerable conflict if they aren’t surfaced in deliberate and thoughtful ways.
More importantly, we hopefully can build bridges between any belief differences that will allow us to have respectful relationships and positive group dynamics that support making good decisions. As one of my favorite authors, Margaret Wheatley, observes in her wonderful book, Turning to One Another:“We don’t have to let go of what we believe, but we do need to be curious about what someone else believes.”
- What are a few of the core beliefs you have about _______? Fill in the blank with the reason people have come together, either the issue of interest (i.e., mass transit, innovation, neighborhood development, budgeting, etc.) or the role they share (i.e., being a good board member, leader, community advocate, leadership educator, parent, etc.)
- How have you come to these beliefs? What experiences and/or individuals have most influenced them? How and why?
- Describe an experience that illustrate any of these beliefs in action and the impact it had.
- When/how have these beliefs most served you well?
- When/how have these beliefs caused you difficulty?
- How are your beliefs likely to show up in the interactions we will have together?
- How do you tend to react when others challenge any of your beliefs in this area or hold beliefs very different from yours?
- Speaking your true voice and encouraging others to do the same.
- Listening as a participant.
- Respecting the coherence of others’ views.
- Suspending your certainties.