First off, a difference in opinion is a good thing. That’s how we learn and that’s how we grow. It has been said, “If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking” but of course this can be challenging at times. HOW we agree to disagree is often times a clear sign of maturity. 

This brings me to one of my favourite topics again, which is the ability to control our emotional response. Please take it from someone who knows, this takes hard work and self-control. 

Here is my awareness objective for today’s message: 

When you have to raise your voice to bring a point across, it is because you a) have no idea how to control your emotional response or b) you have very poor communication skills. Sometimes it is a combination of both but it doesn’t have to be this way. 

Now what can you do when you deeply disagree with someone? 

  • Become curious instead of furious;
  • Keep your Ego in check – do you want to be right or do you want to be happy? 
  • If you feel that you get upset, remove yourself from the situation. Emotion is created by motion – go for a quick walk, jumping jacks, push-ups, breathing exercises, stretching; as soon as you start to move, you will gain emotional control and you will start feeling better;
  • Say things such as “This is very interesting because I have a completely different perspective. Please help me understand your thoughts” or “I didn’t think this would work but I am interested to hear more…”
  • If the other person is upset (emotions are high, intelligence is low), you can say, “I am sorry to see you so frustrated (=acknowledge the emotion). How can we work together to make sure that this doesn’t happen again?” (follow-up with a question and wait for the response); 
  • Avoid giving advice when you are not asked for advice – your experience most likely won’t match theirs, and “well-meant advice” isn’t helpful;
  • Ask open-ended questions (curiosity, not blaming) – How did you experience that? Why do you think it happened? What do we have to do to prevent it next time?
  • Show empathy (do your best to understand the other person’s point of view) instead of showing sympathy (feeling sorry for someone hasn’t ever helped anyone);
  • Be mindful (= be in the moment) when you speak to the person (don’t multitask);

It is o.k. to agree to disagree as long as it is done in a respectful manner. Simply be more aware of your emotions and your tone of voice.


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