Disagreeing Politely

August 3, 2016

In all facets of life, disagreements are going to arise. It's inevitable. The root causes can vary, but ultimately it’s likely due to a difference of opinion. So how do you avoid differences into disagreements into arguments? Here are a few ways to prevent a full blown fight or blow out:

Communication: but this goes beyond actually talking through or discussing the disagreement. It must include “seeking first to understand, then be understood.” In this fashion, you try to talk through the source of the difference or disagreement. While the end result may still be a difference of opinion, having a better understanding of the reasons behind the difference will show maturity and foster continued relationship growth and development.

Emotion: this can be challenging for us all as humans with feelings. However, escalating a conversation with emotion may lead to a lack of clarity and understanding. Raised voices or tempers will likely lead nowhere. That's not to say passion should be placed on the back burner, but ensure it's in check and activated only when it truly adds value to the conversation.

Data and Details: a difference of opinions or disagreements may be the result in one or more within the conversation not having all the facts or details on the subject. Additionally, a lack of understanding the source of the data or information may cause the confusion. In most instances garnering a better knowledge of the data can bring a disagreement to an end. However, it may lead to fostering the difference if each person perceives the data point from the opposite perspective. Tread lightly in this area as again, the root of the data should equally be understood behind the datapoint itself.

Perspective: because most of us are not tasked daily with saving lives, maintaining perspective can lead to a realization that the disagreement isn't really even worth it. With that, it may be easier to agree and move on. Save the differing of opinions and dialogue around it for truly important subjects. If that's hard to swallow, think of it as saving your energy to “fight another day.”

It may not be personal: and it very well could be, especially in personal relationships, but in most friendships and professional relationships, the disagreement may not be personal, so don't immediately take it as such. With that, look to the items above on perspective and emotion to resolve the conflict.

And sometimes, the only solution to a disagreement is to, “agree to disagree.” There's nothing wrong with this resolution, however next steps must be addressed and someone is likely to have tasks or assignments contrary to their opinion. Take stock and use this as an opportunity to again seek to understand the opposite perspective. You may even uncover the data or the detail that brings you into agreement.

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Agree to Disagree, Conflict Resolution, Difference of Opinion, Disagreements,