During the election season (which seems to grow longer every time it comes around), the focus is mostly on convincing rather than informing. Ads, speakers, phone calls, e-mails and direct mail campaigns usually try to tell us where one candidate is wrong and another right.
Even so, I have often found in this election that occasionally I AM informed and learn something from a candidate or one of their supporters that raises a significant question or makes me reassess one of my assumptions on an issue. I have also realized that there are things that I can agree with another person about even if I do not buy into everything they say.
This has been my approach in much of my reading, viewing, and listening. Though I may differ with a person on some matters, I can learn from him or her. I try to be aware of what people from a variety of perspectives—business, culture, religion—have to say and glean what is helpful for me. I may have some theological differences with Andy Stanley, Bart Ehrman or Thomas Keating, but they can teach me something. Patrick Lencioni, Jim Collins, and Ken Blanchard all come from different religious perspectives, but they know organization and leadership principles that are very helpful.
How can we learn from others? First, we need to come with an inquiring mind and a teachable spirit. Second, we need to have respect for the person even if we may not agree on all points. Third, we must know how to ask good, positive questions. Fourth, we should hold our own assumptions lightly so that we don’t cut off dialogue. Fifth, we should know what is non-negotiable for us and review it often. Finally, we must strive toward application.
We don’t give up anything in this process and may gain a great deal.