Disagreements, according to the dictionary is – “lack of consensus or approval”. A lack of approval may seem to come when people seem to see things differently due to many elements like upbringing, situations faced in life, previous experiences , a different information/ more information etc., Disagreeing with a person is not wrong, but our attitude and how we disagree matters the most. Anyone can disagree leaving behind a sour taste but disagreeing amicably is an art. This is one art that we all need to master all our life.
Disagreements are bound to happen and we have baseline that! So the question is how to disagree? How do we deal with disagreements? What do we do when a disagreement has gone sour and converted to into an argument or even worse leading to a fight?
First let us establish what is communication and how should it be done. I see that most of the problems that we face are due to a lack of proper communication. Let’s deal with that first!
What is communication?
Dictionary meaning- Communication (from Latin commūnicāre, meaning “to share” ) is the activity of conveying information through the exchange of thoughts, messages, or information, as by speech, visuals, signals, writing, or behavior.
How do we communicate?
The basic use of communication is to make sure that the other person whom we are communicating with has understood what we have said or trying to say. Because of our inter-cultural marriages and relationships what we say and what we mean may not be perceived as what is said and hence there is a big gap in the communication. We also have people who are communication handicapped! Yes you read that right… We are so not communicative. Often we can’t even express ourselves let alone expressing clearly!
In such cases the best thing to do is to make sure that the person you are communicating with has understood it right. How do we do that? We ask them to paraphrase what has just been discussed.
Let me illustrate with example:
Wife: There is nothing to wear!
Husband: What?! Look at that cupboard… It’s full of clothes…
The above is an example of conversation gone bad..
Let us see how it could have gone better
Wife: There is nothing to wear
Husband: you mean there is nothing to wear (tone being polite)
Wife: No actually there is nothing ironed and there is no power
Husband: Oh your clothes are not ironed
Wife: Yeah! The power has been off the whole day and I have not been able to get this ironing done and now I can’t seem to find anything suitable to wear….
You see all it takes is patience and some love and you will see things change.
How do we deal with disagreements?
Now that we have established the fact that communication is a form of expressing ourselves, we need to understand that our expression might or might not be accepted. We get lucky when we are agreed with and the problem arises when we find ourselves in a place where the other person or people don’t agree with what is said or done. When we realize that we come to a discussion and our point might or might not be accepted we are more prepared to face disagreements.
- Know that you point might not be accepted: As hard as this may sound we need to understand that we might not be agreed with in a conversation. Many a times disagreements are because it is hard for us to accept that the other person does not agree with our view, this then further (without proper communication) turns into an argument! Learning to deal with these things politely and gracefully is the key!
- Concentrate on why the person is saying what he/she is saying: Most times when there seems to be a disagreeable situation we are unable to concentrate on what is actually being discussed. Our mind runs wild and untamed and often gathers all the things of the past and brings it on before us. This makes it very difficult to stay on track and discuss the topic at hand. As hard as it may sound, it is a good practice to start taming our minds to stick to the discussion.
- Keep emotions at bay and analyze situation: Getting emotional is one other thing. Ones our emotions clobber our thoughts we are unable to look at the situation clearly. The best thing to do when we get emotional is to tell the other person we need some time and then cool down and allow our mind to work over our emotion.
- Validate with the new information available: When a person disagrees with us we need to look at what points they are stating for their disagreement. Sometimes we have not looked at the situation the way they have and hence we have a difference of opinion. A good thing to do when get a new angle to our discussion is to see if the information is valid and what is being said is more accurate than what you have put forth.
- Change if need be: Once that is done then is the part where we need to correct ourselves, viewpoints etc., if need be. We should never be hesitant to change for the better. However tough it may be we need to change if we are found at error. Learnability is the key!
How to disagree?
- Don’t attack the person: Things like you always; you never; are dangerous statements in a disagreement. Often we don’t mean what we say. The heat of the argument takes over and we find ourselves telling things that we ourselves regret after sometime. Instead use – I feel like, in my opinion etc. Talk about how you feel when a disagreement arises.
- Stick to the point: Try to stay on track and talk only about the point that is discussed. Things like why you say what you say, what is the basis of your point, if it is intuition then mention that, or assumptions. All these when stated helps keep the discussion on track.
- Don’t bring in previous stories: For women, like one person said, everything is connected to everything else. So in such situations try not to run to” last time also” things and learn to forgive and let go. This helps lesser past to cause problems in the future.
- Try to be polite and respect others: Once the disagreements starts the crouching tiger in us leaps and we find ourselves yelling, raising our voices, using terms and words that we would otherwise not use. This shows the raw us. Sin in us. We need to deal with it. At all times we need to try and keep calm and be respectful of the person that we are talking to. This helps to keep unnecessary emotions at bay and keep the topic on track.
- Don’t be derogatory: Right usage of words is the key to any discussion not turning into an argument or fight. Our tone, posture, attitude all matters. Often matters get out of hand due to our tone/attitude/posture and not due to what is being said.
- Take time out if need be: Some people need time to gather themselves when they are disagreed with. If you are that kind of a person then let the other person know that you need time and if you are having a conversation with such a person then please give them the time that they require. A little space will help them think and come back calm.
- Keep off the-“I am right” attitude: Yes this is very important. We all never want to be wrong. But remember that we are not God and hence we all fail!
- Right choice of words: I can’t stress this enough. We need to choose words wisely. Never take the other person for granted be it your spouse, children or parents. They also have feeling and they also get offended. So be kind and use words wisely. Frame the sentence in your mind and see if it sounds right. If not take time to do it right before it spills out and causes more damage!
What do we do when a disagreement has gone sour and converted to into an argument or even worse leading to a fight?
- Recognize sin: When we have got into an argument/fight we need to recognize that there is sin in us and we need to deal with it. Sin causes us to harbor bitterness, anger, strife, malice etc., it is a heart condition.
- Seek God for forgiveness: Recognize that we have first wronged God by not obeying his word. Understanding this solves us a lot of problems. Run to God and ask Him for His forgiveness. God is able to forgive us.
- Seek for forgiveness form your partner/person with whom the disagreement went sour: We need to humble ourselves and seek forgiveness from the whom we have wronged through our actions, words etc.,
- Pray for the other person: There might be a situation where you have been wronged. In such cases, pray for the person and forgive that person. Pray that he/she will recognize sin and repent of his/her ways. It could also be that you have wronged the person and he/she is unable to forgive. Pray, pray and pray! Only God can change a person.
- Wait patiently trusting in the Lord: Waiting on God to see His work is very important. We may not be able to see the result immediately but we need to exercise patience that God will change things and He will make us more like Him.
Remember that God has to be glorified in all and we are not here to win but make relationships happen! You could have won an argument and lost a loved one or you could have lost an argument and won a loved one. Where do you want to be? The choice is yours!
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[a] 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.