Disagree without being disagreeable
Hi! The elections are over and yet they aren’t. The biggest thing I keep thinking about is: How we can’t seem to disagree without being disagreeable. I’m not talking just political viewpoints; this covers everything we encounter where strong opinions exist. What happened to discussions to share opinions
Can you disagree and be calm? Do you disagree and go silent?
I was in a conversation yesterday with a guy who had just gotten engaged. He and his fiancé’ were obviously trying to figure out how to resolve conflict and disagreement. He wanted to get things resolved quickly and she went into stony silence. When that wasn’t the case, the discussions got heated. Either way, it wasn’t good.
Between this story and the political landscape, it’s obvious to me that we could all stand to improve our skills for constructive confrontation and conflict management.
Why learn those skills? To preserve the relationship – whatever type of relationship that you have with another person.
I’d like to outline a few tips on this subject and to also remind you I do teach this in a webinar called “Talk Like a Leader”.
Before I do, I would like to talk about silence during disagreement. I do think silence is both a positive and a negative. I think it’s good when you are deciding to be selective about which battles to fight. (Metaphorical battle) Sometimes, either the person or situation is such that not saying something is the right thing to do. I think it’s bad when it fails to resolve a problem.
Silence in a disagreement often signals a person’s lack of skills for how to effectively self-manage. It’s understandable, no one including our parents role model how to disagree, constructively confront or how to manage conflict. In fact, silence is one of the things we tend to do in our culture. It doesn’t mean it’s good.
Here are some tips to help you with these things:
- Disagree without emotion. If you get all worked up, you will be met by the same or more negative emotion.
- Simply say: “I disagree”
- Recognize that opinions are as varied as people. None of them are entirely right or wrong. They might simply not be an opinion you agree with and that doesn’t make yours right and others wrong. Simply different.
- Be curious. It turns out that judgment and curiosity can’t co-exist within you at the same time. Rather than judging another person because their opinion is different than yours, seek to understand. It doesn’t mean you agree but you will have a better understanding.
- Don’t try to convince someone else to move to your way of thinking. Being “sold” isn’t a discussion.
I could go on about how to build a skill for disagreement but I’ll stop there. Above all else, be kind to each other.
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