Campaigning for Brexit at times became vitriolic and doom-laden. By polling day wearisome was added to the list. The UK’s member countries, communities, friendships and families were at loggerheads during campaigning. Now, post result, those opposing perspectives appear firmly entrenched.

How to be different

A ‘them and us’ mentality is not a good starting point for discussion or decision-making. It appeals to our less desirable instincts and creates an environment where each side is simply shouting ‘it’s my way or the highway’. Consequently we all need to take some personal responsibility when it comes to how we deal with difference. It is not enough that we should learn to tolerate difference. We need to learn to accept difference because the alternative is not good.

Differing values is neither ‘them or us’ nor ‘right or wrong’. When a value or attitude which might be right in itself (e.g. keeping healthy) is taken too far or imposed upon someone else, it can become wrong. For all of us living on the road to Brexit proper, we need to understand that it may not be our preference but it does not need to be as polarising as ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. This is not about whether some people’s opinions are ‘wrong’. It is about why some people feel a certain way and what that means.

How to fight clean

If you or someone you know has ever joined a martial arts club then you will probably have witnessed an unlikely phenomenon. A tight-knit group of people walloping the living daylights out of each other. Many of these clubs use the slogan: train like a team, fight like a family. The key is sticking to the rules of engagement and trusting that no-one will fight dirty.

Rules of engagement

Leaving relationships damaged because of Brexit would be a far worse consequence for society than economic uncertainty or getting a few less Euros for your Sterling.

To help us all along the way, these are what we believe to be the rules of engagement for families, friendships and communities:

  • move past differences of opinion/perspective being about ‘them and us’
  • try not to dismiss someone else’s feelings because they do not tally with your own
  • try not to characterise perspectives as ‘right or wrong’
  • communicate – talk about the issues, not the people
  • listen – listen to understand, not merely to respond
  • use non-blaming/non-aggressive language – talk about my opinion, my beliefs and not why you are ‘wrong’.

Taking these steps can start the process of mending bridges and thankfully, they do not require any kind of polling or voting to be put in to practice.