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Finding Common Ground

We are not nearly the divisive country as the media and many politicians would like you to think.


The unfortunate casualty of the past several decades of politics is the loss of appreciating our common ground. The news media focuses on our differences, the politicians campaign about what sets them apart, and the mobs from any political ideology press for unyielding and complete adherence to only their views.

In reality, only an extremely small percentage of the United States populations hold to these views.

As businesses leaders, we understand that will not be successful in the long term by focusing on only differences. The way we make our businesses work is by focusing on our similarities.

We must focus on our common ground.

Common Ground in Business

Speaking from a small business owners’ perspective, I don’t have the luxury of mandating total commitment to one idea, market, or employment base. Nearly everything I manage is diverse.

I don’t get to hire people with a specific set of educational and experiential backgrounds. I hire the best I can find, and none of them exactly fit what I thought I needed. I’m constantly looking for common ground to motivate and encourage my employees to grow and expand in their work knowledge.

Likewise, my clients are not a homogeneous set of businesses. Some of them even compete with each other. So, I’m always looking for common ground among my clients to establish boundaries for what I can and what I cannot accomplish for them. For example, I will not provide services for one client that will negatively impact another client.

Common Ground

The incivility found in the press these days is generally not found in the business world for the reason that all businesses practice finding common ground on a daily basis. I can find common ground with my competitor in that we struggle to meet the same set of regulations. I can find common ground with municipalities in that they want new development and my clients want to develop. I can find common ground with my employees in that they want a job and I need them to perform specific tasks.

It is the common ground where all conversations start.

Common Ground

Acts 17:16-34 is a textbook example of how to find common ground. The Apostle Paul is in Athens, a Greek cultural city that embodied an all-inclusive belief system. There were statues, altars, and temples to gods and idols everywhere.

Paul noticed that one altar was “To An Unknown God.” Rather than condemn the Athenians for their pagan worship, Paul used this one altar as a common ground to open up conversations about Christianity. Paul was able to meet his audience where they were intellectually and have an open, non-confrontational conversation about religion.

We need to learn from Paul’s ability to have a polite discussion about religion by starting with the common ground found with his listeners.

As business leaders, we need not let the divisive rhetoric of the day influence how we operate our businesses. Common ground is the place to start with our employees, our clients, and our competitors.