You’ve probably heard the saying “to begin is half the work.” It is also the hard part of the work. Have you had trouble starting a thing or two? What is a good way to begin something? In Let’s begin (Part I), I gave some tips on how to get yourself ready to cross the start line. Today, I want to talk about the importance of finding common ground as the first step in many initiatives. What we have in common with one another can be used as glue to make all the pieces of our project stick together. How so? Let’s look at some of the contexts where you can use common ground as your beginning point.
- Whenever you need to make a speech or a presentation, it’s a good idea to begin by sharing something that your audience can agree with. If you establish a point of agreement with your audience from the start, your listeners are going to be more willing to accept what you have to say later. To learn how to do that, listen to The Engaging Brand podcast Powerful Presenting Pt 1 and Pt 2.
- When we meet a person for the first time, it’s only natural that we look for commonalities in our backgrounds or interests to establish rapport. Remember that next time you are at a networking function. You conversations will be more fulfilling if you take a genuine interest in the other person.
- When mediators work to resolve a conflict between parties, they often try to have them agree on something as the first step of the mediation process. Even if the point of agreement is really small, its psychological benefit can be great. Sometimes, a small object that has sentimental value for both parties, such as the kids’ pictures, can do the trick. Next time you see a conflict brewing, try to agree before you disagree.
- When you work as a team, you need to start with a common agenda and common goals. It applies to meetings, collaborative projects, study groups. It ensures that all the members of your team are moving in the same direction.
- When you write to persuade, inform or entertain, it’s a good idea to consider what characteristics your readers share and what you can do as a writer to address their concerns, interests and desires. You can apply the same principle when you launch a new product or service.
- Whenever we encounter a new situation, we look for a familiar pattern in it. That’s how our brain processes the information. To understand the new piece, we need to find a link or an association to something we already know. If you train yourself to be better at pattern recognition, you will learn more and remember longer. So next time you need to learn something new, compare it first to what you already know and see how you can transfer your existing knowledge or skill set to the new context.
Can you think of any other situations when finding common ground is a good way to begin?