“Realizing that the other person is also just like me is the basis on which we can develop compassion, not only toward those around us but also toward our enemy. Normally, when we think about our enemy, we think about harming him. Instead, try to remember that the enemy is also a human being, just like you.”
— The Dalai Lama
A few years ago I interviewed former Lead Hostage Negotiator for the FBI, Chris Voss. He has turned his decades of negotiation experience into a bestselling book and consulting practice.
One of his best techniques was that “all terrorists have moms”. This is meant to say that we all have common ground, regardless of where our decisions have placed us in life. Tupac noted that “we all came from a woman, got our name from a woman and our game from a woman.”
Similarly, there’s a mindfulness practice called “just like me”. When approached with a difficult interpersonal situation, it prompts you to find common ground.
“Just like me, this person has a mother.” “Just like me, this person wants to be happy.” “Just like me, this person has worries, fears, and imperfections.” And so on.
Whether you’re dealing with a tough client, a moody significant other – or an international terrorist – there is always common ground to find.
Now is as important of a time as ever to find it.