We all at times have occasion to disagree with someone. It may be in a personal relationship, in a business situation, with a family member, friend or colleague. How serious that disagreement becomes can be dependent on how we choose to respond and handle it. Here are some tips to help manage those times, to help you deal with disagreement:
- Clarify the main issues as you see them. What are the key points that are causing you to be annoyed, upset and in disagreement? Once you have identified those points be sure to stay on track and avoid being distracted by a plethora of other examples, explanations and times when things occurred that also bothered you. It can be all too easy to lose direction and get bogged down with ancillary issues. Then the discussion dissolves into chaos with nothing ultimately resolved.
- Determine what your desired outcome is. What would make a difference to the way you're feeling; what do you need that you're not getting right now? For some people it might be more appreciation, respect, honesty, for others it might be practical help, time together, support, evidence of the other person's interest. Identify what it is that you want or need before discussions commence, then you can stay focussed on what you're looking to achieve.
- Listen, really listen to the other person's point of view. From the outset, you're clear about your stance on the matter, why you're so hurt, annoyed, offended. Further communications need to be about clarifying and understanding the other person's take on what has caused the disagreement. Demonstrate active listening by being attentive, reflecting back what's been said, maybe asking questions in a positive, respectful way, all to encourage and extract important information about the other person's feelings, viewpoint and perspective.
- Acknowledge your part in the disagreement. There's nothing more frustrating in a row/argument/conflict situation than one person feeling vilified whilst the other is cast in the role of martyr/saint/victim. One person may appear more wronged than wronging, but it is unusual for one person to be totally to blame for a disagreement. Taking responsibility for your part demonstrates a desire to see things from the other person's perspective, a desire to put things right by perhaps apologising and a preparedness to move on from the situation.
- Agree to meet halfway. Being prepared to compromise allows the other person to feel respected, validated and important in the relationship. Some people may want to write down any agreed outcomes; they may choose to schedule in further discussions to assess how well they're doing and perhaps find ways to move the situation further forward. Others may shake hands and feel satisfied that the situation has reached a good enough rapprochement.
In a disagreement situation some people may find that they can work through their issues together. They may be able to set aside time when they will remain undisturbed and able to establish an environment conducive to addressing their respective issues and concerns. For others, it might be more appropriate to book sessions with a neutral third-party, like a counsellor or mediator. That way their sessions are pre-booked in the diary and given priority with an independent professional who supports the process for both parties.