Last week I overheard one of our AARP volunteers in a spirited discussion with an AARP staff member. They were discussing how AARP was handling some issues and I quickly realized that there were different points of view being presented. The discussion was very kind and remained friendly the entire time, with many, “I understand where you are coming from…” phrases thrown around. I was not only impressed because it was one of the most respectful political discussions I have heard in a while, but also at how in-depth each person was at presenting their opinion and the level of respectful listening that was happening. The more that I thought about it, the more natural this occurrence seemed to me. Of course, AARP is a diverse organization with members with diverse opinions. The association has so many facets and provides so many different services for the 50+ community that it would be ridiculous to expect someone to agree with every single thing.
I am involved in several different organizations on my college’s campus and while I love being a part of each one, there are many things that I would love to change about each organization. That doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate the organization or that my support for it is lessened, instead I believe that it actually shows that I care more about the organization. To truly support and care about an organization you have to be willing to look at what the organization can do better and how it can improve. So while I was surprised to overhear this sort of discussion between an AARP volunteer member and staff member, I see now that both sides were only trying to make sure that AARP is continuing to do what is best for the people who rely on the organization. This was also an excellent reminder to me of how to bring up and discuss differing opinions respectfully, an important skill for everyone to possess.