Home | Upcoming Events | Services | Results
Site Map | Member Login | Success Store | Contact


Latest Newsletter
Archived by date

Inspirational articles
Career satisfaction
Motivational articles
Goal setting
Sales and marketing
Humor and creativity
Technology articles

Free monthly success tips! Enter your email address!

Motivational Keynote Speaker

Comedy Shows

Public Seminars

Executive Coaching

Personal Coaching

Business Coaching

Employee motivation and retention

Management and team building

Press Room

Motivational and business resources

Book and website link directory

Contact Us


April 2002
Success Harmony Newsletter

"To Resolve Differences, Look for Common Ground"

The ever-increasing conflict between Israel and Palestine may be very far for most of us, even for those with Jewish or Muslim roots. Most of us may have become numb to it and say "so what, I don't care anymore!". I wonder, though, if there is something out of that whole mess that we can all be reminded to do in our own lives.

I listened to a short radio interview with a couple of consultants to the Palestinian negotiating team. The reporter prefaced the show by saying something like "Israelis and Palestinians rarely meet. They rarely talk to each other. So, for two Palestinians to come to an Israeli home to talk, even if the home belongs to left wing Israelis, is very uncommon." The reporter also mentioned that the two consultants were only allowed to go to the area because they held foreign passports, so were not seen as "true Palestinians".

The interview then proceeded with the consultants saying things like, "well, if they expected us to thank them, we had to tell them they failed in their efforts." The Israelis then could be heard saying they had the power in the conflict and that was that. At the end, it was too late for the two consultants to drive home and two Israelis offered to put them up in their homes. The Palestinians flatly refused and went to a hotel. Unfortunately, both sides squandered this rare opportunity to meet. Again, they focused on their differences.

I think that the reporter hit the nail on the head when she commented that the Israelis and the Palestinians never talk to each other. Of course not. That's how they cannot relate to each other at all. The only thing they can see is how the media in their own region bashes, depersonalizes and demonizes the other side. They are unable to see their similarities; only differences matter. This is exactly what happens in any conflict. Watch a couple getting a divorce. Watch a conflict between union leadership and company management.

The unfortunate part in all conflict is this lack of seeing the other side as a person - as someone's child, wife, husband, grandmother, coworker, neighbour, friend, mentor, uncle, or any other role that make the other side more human. In my experience, when we can see each other for our similarities, our differences either go away completely or, at least, they allow us to like each other enough to be able to negotiate through our differences.

Being born in Communist Czechoslovakia in the middle of the Cold War, I remember this type of polarization very clearly. As young kids in Grade 8, we ran around in gas masks and learned about what to do when (not "if") the nuclear attack came from the big bad NATO countries. I was rather shocked when I came to North America and found out that similar paranoia existed here about being attacked by the Communists. Who was then attacking who?

Also, having grown up in a country in the middle of Europe, I had very little access to non-white people. As a result, my society taught me that "all Gypsies were thieves", and that "Oriental people have lice in their hair and they will kill you if you upset them." Not having access to information to disprove these types of statements, I didn't quite question them. Imagine, then, my horror of arriving to Vancouver, Canada. I was put in an English class for new immigrants - and I was the ONLY white person. There were 2 East Indian kids, all the others were Orientals. I was honestly terrified. It seems silly, very silly now, but I was terrified of speaking to them. Somewhere, somehow, I was afraid of catching lice and ending up with a knife in my back. I was rather surprised when I started discovering my classmates for who they were. Kids who, just like myself, were trying to learn a new language and a new culture. Kids who, just like myself, left their friends and families behind. Kids who, just like myself, tried to get good marks, get rid of teenage pimples, and get invited out for a Friday night date to the movies. We were a lot more alike than I would have ever thought. I lost my fear, and gained a few friends.

You and I may not have much ability to directly affect the conflict in the Middle East or any major war. I do believe, however, that we can have an effect by what we are willing to understand around us. Do you have a boss who you cannot stand? Invite her out for lunch and just ask some questions about her life. What does she like to do? What is her background? Are you Catholic? Sit down with a Jehova's Witness and ask questions about their religion. Don't talk, just ask and listen. Are you a middle class professional who has judgements about punk teenage kids? When you see one on the street next time, ask if you can chat with him for a bit. Not to patronize or to convert, but just to chat. Again, ask a few questions and listen. You may find growing closer to the very people who you thought you'd never, ever understand.

And, please, do let me know what you've learned...:)


To receive this free inspirational monthly newsletter, enter your email address:

Archived Newsletters



"The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails."
William Arthur Ward

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts."
Sir Winston Churchill

"By working faithfully eight hours a day you may eventually get to be a boss and work twelve hours a day."
Robert Frost

"When a man does not know what harbour he is making for, no wind is the right wind."




NEWSLETTER: Latest Newsletter | Archived by date | Subscribe for newsletter
ARTICLES: | Inspirational articles | Career satisfaction | Motivation and change articles | Goal setting
Communication and relationship articles | Sales and marketing | Humor and creativity | Technology articles

Home> | Site Map | Member Login | Upcoming Events | Success Store | Client Results
Coaching Programs | Corporate Consulting | Motivational Keynote Speaker | Corporate Comedy | Contact

© 2002 Pavla Michaela Polcarova, CPR Coaching Services, Vancouver, BC, Canada