There‘s no question. We are all different. We organize differently, we see things differently, we react differently and we care for each other differently. We have much in common, but we are created to be different. Differences even occur within our own minds and hearts. So why do differences pose real problems for many of us?

Many view differences as synonymous with being in conflict. But really, conflict is the result of not being able to reconcile differences. Some differences may never be bridged. However, many differences can be bridged if we want to be bridge builders. Bridge builders are those people who value the relationship between themselves and others as much as they do their own opinions and needs. Bridge builders only strengthen the bridges between themselves and others by trying to understand where the other is coming from. Obviously, this isn’t an easy project for some of us.

Differences can actually lead to some synergy and creativity in getting things done. If differences are only seen as conflict then some of us will avoid them while others will push the differences creating more conflict for themselves and the relationship. We often consul people who are confusing differences with conflict. There’s a reason for the saying: “Two heads are better then one.” Black and white thinkers, hardheaded or hard-hearted people don’t believe this axiom. They frown on accommodating normal variations in human nature.

Somehow we need to learn to live with differences not messing with our souls. Most differences we see actually aren’t absolute differences at all, but rather misunderstandings of intentions or ways people have in stating their opinions, wants, and expectations. And so we create conflict while simply trying to deal with different opinions or approaches to mutual problems. Sometimes we create inner turmoil when we can’t reconcile differences within our very own minds and hearts.

Differences are normal, even when they are uncomfortable. This knowledge is itself a tool in resolving the stresses with others and within ourselves. While not an easy task, it’s done everyday by people who want it to happen. Be a bridge builder!