Walking Side-by-Side; A Process for Conflict Resolution

It seems that disrespect for people with differing opinions is at an all-time high in our society today.

The harsh rhetoric on all sides of the political spectrum recently gave me pause and made me think of Louie and some of his not-so-friendly foes. I am convinced that if people were to act the way our pets do, we would all get along better. For example, sometimes Louie might see a dog that challenges him. The two will snarl and growl and perhaps even bark at each other. However, the minute we walk side by side with the dog and its owner, they seem to get along. There is something about being intentional and walking alongside someone you disagree with.
Louie has done this with my niece’s dog, Buddy. Those two little boys will scrunch their noses, curl their lips, show their teeth, stand their hair up, and bark in such a high pitch that
people turn their heads with a look of concern. Andrea laughs, assuring everyone in sight that the dogs are actually cousins and are fine with each other. It sure doesn’t seem like it when they are facing one another. However, as soon as we start walking, they are fine together.

Louie also behaves this way with rambunctious Claire, his other cousin Noli, and his neighbors Murphy and Emma. What is it about being side by side with their supposed nemesis? I think there
are several things:
1. It is less threatening.
2. They are on equal ground.
3. They see the same vision of what lies ahead.
4. They walk at the same pace.
5. It is easier to carry the other’s burden. (Okay, this one relates to humans, not Louie.)

What if some of our leaders were intentional about walking side by side instead of duking it out? I wrote an article with Ken Blanchard titled, “Leading with Your Heart Takes Humility.”
Although it was written several years ago, the premise holds true today: Humility is the key to excelling in leadership. And servant leaders are humble enough to walk beside someone they disagree with.
I won’t share the full article, but here are some of the highlights:

  1. Something is glaringly missing from leadership today. Sadly, many leadership programs are missing just one key ingredient: the heart. Not only the heart of the issue or the heart of the matter—the heart of the people.
  2. What gets in your way? What truly is your motive for being a leader or wanting to lead others?
    Is it for selfish gain or to better others?
  3. Many times, our ego gets in the way, and what bubbles up out of our hearts are things like pride, selfishness, and even fear.
  4. How can you push past what holds you back? In getting past the barriers, is the challenge as a leader to balance confidence with humility to fight ego issues? Every time you make a
    leadership decision, are you thinking of yourself or others?
  5. Confidence does not come from being in a dominant position and leading by intimidation.

Doing this will cause you to lose respect from others, and any talk about values or integrity will be ignored. Humility, however, is not something they teach us in business schools. It is a
character trait honed over time with truth and love.

Our schools, businesses, organizations, and families are hungry for leadership, coupled with humility. It takes commitment to make the necessary changes to have a healthy culture and
humble leaders.

Perhaps our world could learn a lesson from Louie about being intentional and walking side by side with others rather than snarling at them. While Louie doesn’t understand humility, his
actions speak louder than his woof. He is more than willing to walk alongside others. As I watch his actions, I am convinced that we humans have much to learn from our dogs.

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