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If you have been to a wedding recently, you might have been asked to write a note of advice for the newlyweds.  Mine is always the same – master the art of disagreement.

Agree to Disagree

Agreeing to disagree is an important skill in any relationship, personal or professional.  There are times when we need to listen to the other person’s opinion, respectfully express our own, and recognize when the discussion is not going to change anyone’s mind.

When to Try a Different Approach

This can be a challenge for those of us who are able to use our powers of persuasion quite effectively most of the time.  It might be worth considering a different approach when:

  • The issues aren’t black or white – exploring the gray area requires seeing the other person’s perspective
  • Emotions are strong – calling a truce when things get heated can help us avoid saying things we will regret later
  • The stakes are high – instead of creating a win/lose situation, honoring both sides can help maintain the relationship

That is the secret to the art of disagreement:  focusing on the relationship instead of winning the argument.  What if everyone tried that for a change?

I’m Right, You’re Wrong

How many times a day do we think or say, “That is so stupid!”? The statement infers that we are smarter than someone else, that we are right and they are wrong.  That attitude makes it impossible to find common ground in conflict resolution.

 

Where is that Getting Us?

This issue came up with two of my clients recently so I challenged them to come up with a non-judgmental word to substitute for “stupid.”  It wasn’t easy letting go of that powerful feeling of being right, but they were each frustrated enough with the lack of progress in resolving their differences with colleagues that they agreed to work on it.

 

This is Smart!

The exercise enabled my clients to see things from the other person’s perspective, and that helped them move forward.  How about you?  Are you ready to try a new approach to achieving your objectives?  If so, I invite you to consider an issue from the perspective of someone with whom you disagree.  That’s not stupid; it’s smart!