Meeting in the Middle is about finding a third space. To search for some kind of common ground where you want the same thing and can come to more constructive action or mutual understanding.
This third space is the place where you can discover similarities, and also acknowledge differences. It is the space of added value that helps design a common future.
What to keep in mind when in search of this common ground?
What defines the Middle?
The Middle is the connecting point where You and I meet, where inside and outside connect, where thinking and acting merge, and vision and practice come together.
It also is the place where top and bottom meet, and hierarchy is equalized.
Here, the playfield is equal. For the power of diversity to be recognized and complementary thinking to emerge. As unplanned yet fortunate yield. A yield that thrives, creates values, and generates greater quality.
Here, there is no division, separation, or exclusion. Only acceptance of what is and using it for a new perspective. In this way, the third space is where either-or merges into a third and inclusive option that works to the benefit of all involved.
Searching for the connecting point, requirements
It is possible to meet in the Middle when you have identified a shared goal, intention, need, or a common interest / passion.
To this end, you have to discover with each other what gives strength rather than focusing on reinforcing impossibilities because that weakens.
It also requires looking for deeper drivers or rationales. So that you can work on creating options that work for all involved rather than for some.
In addition, it takes a willingness to:
- participate from a mindset that is open to a shared future;
- engage and take a step back in your own reluctance, judgment, and/or insecurity;
- slow down, make time to listen, and be open to what(ever) others bring in (with the intent to do something with it);
- put yóur cards on the table and be clear about them, so others can find out what you consider important.
A greater purpose bridges
Finding the Middle the Middle arises from the willingness not to want to be right or to communicate from hierarchy or from the trenches. But to narrow distances and bridge people and their goals, worlds, desires, and hopes. It is the result of constructive conversation (techniques) and co-creation methods.
The Middle is best found when 1) using playful and insightful work forms that produce a wide range of outcomes in information, viewpoints, and possibilities.
2) Supported by the presence of a safe space where those involved can relax in the realization that it’s fine to agree to disagree. We all want the same thing, but simply try to achieve it differently.
3) The breakthrough in disagreement co-depends on the willingness to put differences in the freezer and to keep looking for a third solution space. This place exists not at the expense of some but it benefits all.
This way, when the spark of polarity reveals itself, differences can be left as they are, and used for a greater purpose. A greater solution for solving challenges, and connecting hopes for the future.
Content credits: Ron van Gils, author of the Management book StoryDoing, & Yael van Assendelft (March 2020, Arnhem, NL)