Wars are fought at a distance; battles between families are often fought at a distance. In fact, in my experience distance is always a factor when relationships breakdown between individuals and organisations.
Of course, there is a time for respecting someone’s space and nothing can be gained by aggressive confrontation. However, while our nature is to separate ourselves, for companies and corporate entities that often just makes things worse.
Distance isn’t just about physical separation. It can be the perception of mental distance, a sense that you simply are not prepared to come into my mental space and see or feel things from my perspective.
The mining company executive who sits down in the dirt with a group of tribal elders is far more likely to succeed than one who stays in his city office tower and sends out letters via his legal team.
Bridging distance, reaching out, shows respect. You may never agree, you may never be able to reconcile your views of an issue or the world in general. But reaching out shows respect and is likely to significantly lower the risk of your separation turning into a damaging conflict
How often have you based your opinions on someone from hearsay? You build up this image of a cold, disinterested, hard-hearted individual. Then you meet. The warmth of the handshake, the look in the eye, the nervous first meeting, realising you both have hopes and fears. There aren’t always fairy-tale endings, but stepping towards rather than away means far less chance of a nightmare conclusion.