Disagreements in relationships are inevitable. There are no two people that agree on absolutely everything. This truth has been highlighted ten-fold this past year when there has been so much to disagree on: politics, religion, COVID, and any other controversial issue that you can think of. For many of us, this has taken a toll on our relationships and connections with others. Disagreements can lead us to feel disconnected, angry, sad, and misunderstood. However, our interactions with the people we care about do not have to end this way.
Here are my 6 suggestions for disagreeing while preserving your relationships:
- First, remember that your relationship is more important than being right. Pausing and reminding yourself that the person in front of you is someone you care deeply about and want to be in a relationship with dramatically impacts conversations when you disagree. The goal of remaining connected is more important than winning an argument or proving a point.
- Seek to understand the other’s person’s point of view rather than jump to conclusions. For the most part, people have good reasons for believing what they believe, even if it does not seem immediately obvious. Conversations will be much more productive and calm if they begin from a place of curiosity and compassion. Seeking to understand communicates genuine interest and respect in a way that simply arguing cannot.
- Speak with humility. This is one of the hardest things to do. Humility requires vulnerability and admitting you might not have all the answers. Speaking with humility requires us to be open to learning and seeing things from a perspective that we might not have considered before. This does not necessarily mean you have to agree with everything (you probably will not), but it does mean that you need to consider the other person’s point of view as worthy of care and concern. Why? Because they are worthy of your consideration.
- Remember, it’s okay to disagree. A variety of viewpoints can actually be a good thing. We were all created with different personalities, given different life experiences, and developed various ways to see the world. Understanding and learning from each other do not make our views smaller or less valid; it makes them richer and more informed. Disagreements are not battles to be won but opportunities to learn.
- Take a break if you need one. It’s 100% okay to say, “Hey, I’m getting a little heated, and I don’t want to say something I don’t mean. Could we talk about this later?” Then follow up later.
- Finally, when in doubt, treat the other person how you would want to be treated.