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How to Disagree With Someone and Not Feel Upset

Jul 19, 2023

Disagreements are a part of life, and often an inevitable part of the human experience. They can surface in the political realm, at family gatherings, or even online debates over how people should spend their money or parent their children. Lately, it seems these disagreements have become less amicable, rife with anger and hatred. However, I believe it's essential to navigate these disagreements more constructively, and I want to help equip you with the skills to do just that.

One of the greatest strengths we have as a society lies in our differences. Every one of us holds a piece of the truth puzzle, and we learn from each other's perspectives. It's crucial to remember that many times, people who disagree actually care deeply for the same outcome, they just differ in their approach to achieving it. We should harness these differences, not to create war with one another, but to build stronger, more informed communities.

But how do we facilitate these amicable disagreements?

Firstly, create a safe space where each person can express their thoughts and feelings without fear of ridicule or invalidation. This environment should be treated with utmost respect and reverence, almost as if it were a sterile operating room. It's in this setting that each individual's treasured ideas can be displayed without the risk of infection by toxic negativity.

Secondly, listen to understand, not to defend or debate. Embody empathy, be curious and encourage more sharing. Respect the ideas shared and the person who shares them, even if you disagree. Remember, you can think something is not a great idea without thinking the person who holds it is not a great person. Finally, be thankful for the diversity of thoughts and experiences that others bring to the table.

Sometimes, it's not enough just to employ these skills yourself. You might find yourself in a situation where the other party lacks these skills. In such a case, remember that your actions can set the tone for the conversation. Even if the other party treats your perspective with contempt, continue to play by the rules. Show respect, listen, and remain curious. Your maturity and willingness to engage can help elevate the discourse.

Disagreements are not only inevitable and they are beneficial to our collective growth. With a bit of practice and a lot of empathy, we can make our disagreements constructive and amicable.

Some questions to ask:

1. Have you recently had a disagreement that turned contentious? Could the situation have been handled differently?
2. How do you feel about creating a 'safe space' for disagreements? Do you see value in it?
3. Can you recall a situation where you listened to understand, rather than to respond? How did it affect the conversation?
4. Have you experienced a disagreement where the other party was not respectful or open to your ideas? How did you respond, and how could you have responded differently?

Get Dr. Cloud's free guide on how to deal with the toxic people in your life. 

Dr. Cloud can help you live the life you were meant to live!