Guest Post – Finding Common Ground

Today I’m delighted to introduce you to Tayo Rockson through a guest post — Finding Common Ground. Tayo has a passion to see third culture kids use their diverse backgrounds to make a difference across many spheres of society and in early fall will be hosting a podcast featuring different third culture kids. He also generously read through my book and gave an endorsement! You can read more about Tayo at the end of the post. 


Every 4 years, a variation of a sporting event brings groups of people together, whether it is the World Cup, Olympics, or the Winter Olympics.

These events inspire:

  • cooperation where there might not have been one before

  • hugs with strangers

  • smiles and head nods of acknowledgement from opposing groups and

  • an open door policy from anyone with the game on the TV

If it takes just a simple sporting event to cause people to set aside their differences then maybe more effort should be spent on finding common ground instead of emphasizing differences. 

I have lived in 5 countries across 4 continents and each time I move I realize I have a choice: I can either emphasize our differences, or find common ground. Here are some of the ways I’ve learned to find common ground in the place where I currently live – New York City.

Say Hi With A Smile: This does wonders for people especially ones having bad days. It also makes you appear welcoming and approachable.

Ask How Their Day Was: If you follow up that “hi” with a “how was your day?”, you might be on to some communication gold. The trick here though is not to say “how was your day” and walk away. Make sure you look him or her in the eye and have your shoulders squarely facing the person when asking the question. You will come across as someone who cares genuinely for them and easy to talk to.

Ask Where People Are From: Everyone has a story to tell and you can often hear that story by asking where they come from. Stories are important because they give you a glimpse of who people are. This a great way to understand someone and withhold judgement because you know why they think the way they do. Also, this is often reciprocated by them asking you same question. CONNECTION!

Be Complimentary: This has everything to do with being observant. Pay attention to the people around you and you will be able to notice different things that they do or wear. If you make it a mission of yours to just pay attention to people then you will notice the subtleties in their lives.

Learn Phrases, Sentences, And Mannerisms In Foreign Cultures: This is SO important for one to be accepted in foreign lands because it gives foreigners the impression that you are making an effort to communicate with them and not just be a tourist. You’ll often find locals more welcoming to you this way.

Turn Ignorance Into Education: When I first came to Virginia for college from Nigeria/Vietnam, my college mates asked me why I spoke such good English and if I lived in huts or walked among lions. Instead of getting angry, I simply told them that lions were not common in that part of Africa and that English is the official language in Nigeria. Education!

I’ll be the first to say that none of this is necessarily easy, but trust me — it’s worth it! 

tayoTayo Rockson grew up in four different continents so he considers himself a citizen of the world. He has lived in Sweden, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Vietnam and the United States and his goal is to ultimately leave the world a better place than it was before he came into it. Once he discovered that he was a Third Culture Kid (TCK), he vowed to use his global identity to make an impact in the world. He tells positive uplifting stories via different mediums and works with people of all sorts to help them become the best version of themselves. Feel free to connect with him on Twitter @TayoRockson or his website where he is actively making new friends every day.



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6 thoughts on “Guest Post – Finding Common Ground

  1. Tayo, I so appreciate the suggestions you offer for finding common ground . . . thank you! May I share these with new employees at our home care organization? Our staff are in patients’ homes providing healthcare, and your perspective would surely help them to be more respectfully connective with their patients from so many diverse backgrounds. I loved this post!


  2. Thanks for this, Tayo. It’s easy to see the differences, but sometimes more of a challenge to find common ground. I agree that education is everything. I used to get those questions all the time as well about lions and elephants in my back yard, but I admit I sometimes made up stories about having such a pet in response, just to see the reaction.


      1. I must admit I did that too sometimes…I just gives you a rush to see other people stare…honestly, I have talked to quite a few TCKs and it is interesting to see the “tactics” or psychological “games” they use in communicating with non-TCKs…


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