I don’t think it’s a stretch of the imagination to say that we all may know someone who holds a different opinion about something than we do. Especially lately, when opinions and emotions about the state of things in the world are running pretty high. Whether it be politics, social or racial injustice, or issues related to COVID-19, finding yourself on the opposite side of an issue with a loved one or valued friend can be both upsetting and can drive a wedge into a previously stable relationship.
So how can we use the GIVE skill to help? The GIVE skill can be used when the relationship is one that is especially important to you, and where maintaining it feels like more of a priority than going toe-to-toe about the actual issue you may disagree about. Approaching conversations with kindness and respect (G = Gentle), includes avoiding attacking the other person’s beliefs, minimizing their position or judging them harshly. Also, bringing an air of openness and curiosity (I = Interested), may also show the other person that even if you disagree, you respect them and are interested in understanding their point of view. Acknowledging, both through words and actions (V = Validate), that you understand their feelings and thoughts doesn’t require that you condone or agree, but communicates a willingness to keep the relationship even if you don’t see eye to eye. And finally, softening your tone and facial expression (E = easy manner), can also show your friend or loved one that no matter if you agree or disagree, they are important to you.
The reality is, there will always be issues (whether big or small), that may lead to differences of opinion with people we care about. And sometimes your values or getting your needs met will be the priority, rather than keeping the relationship intact or at the helm of consideration. But when your relationship with these loved ones is really important, practicing the GIVE skill can allow you to prioritize your social connection, both through your words and your behaviors.