Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Find Common Ground

Another installment about Effective MCR Conversations

We've all met someone who simply "doesn't get it." They buy disposable everything or maybe they don't care about climate change. It's like you see the consequences of their actions, but they don't. 

You don't want to argue with them, but you also know this is precisely the person we need to chat with. Don't start listing arguments that will convince them to change ways.

Start by finding common ground.

Take a deep breath and look for what you have in common. Statistically speaking, all humans have more in common than we have different. In fact, common ground is not hard to come by. In some cases, it is almost universal.

People are more likely to be influenced by those they perceive to be much like themselves. We look to base their opinion on people with whom we have something in common.

It doesn't take much. You might comment on food they bought - saying how you really enjoy food at this particular fast food restaurant. You might hint at the challenges of parenthood. The weather is a good one: we are all subjected to the same weather.

You may say something like: "Wow, I see that you got food from [insert fast food place]. I love that place. Do you come here a lot? I find they give out a lot of disposables so I try to bring a reusable container with me whenever I go there for lunch". 

It's important to be genuine. Don't invent stuff. Simply connect on a human level.

This skill comes with practice.

Your first goal is building a rapport and planting a seed.

What are your successes with finding common ground? Share in a comment, below.

More "Effective MCR Conversations"



  1. Brilliant post Helene, I'm going to try this, or at least practice it many times. Since I often get sidelined by emotion this might give me something different to focus on. I look forward to Part 2 and hopefully more.

  2. People often don't want to know how much you know, they want to know how much you care. In a way, the outcome (changed waste behavior) is secondary to connection between people. When we are connected, we are less defensive and are more open to changing our world view. When you ask someone to change something, you are really asking them to change their world view. Most of us (like MCR's) have a lot invested in our world views so much is at risk (for both sides) any time we enter in conversation with others. Respect this risk and trust builds allowing others freedom to accept more of what you are proposing.