With more and more people finding their voice, and significant platforms being available to share said voice, it’s not uncommon that we find ourselves frequently at odds with the people around us. You won’t ever find a space where people are agreeable with each other, that’s a fantasy, not reality. However, differences in opinions or points of view don’t always need to lead to anger or conflict, rather, they need to be treated with an understanding of the contrasts they represent.
Each individual has a unique view of the world, they have their own ideologies, their own school of thought, so being at odds isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, they present an opportunity to foster open communication and change. Below, we’ve put together 5 effective ways you can deal with disagreement and differences in opinions productively.
1. Seek to understand
People often disagree when they fail to understand the other person’s point of view. When we’re so busy wanting to be heard, we end up failing to actually listen to what the other party is saying. When we rise above our egos and try to understand, we realise that others aren’t so different from us. We begin to accommodate a different point of view or opinions; we welcome a broadening of our mental horizons. This doesn’t always mean we agree, just that we’re open to considering a versatile worldview that could be different to ours.
2. Look beyond your personal triggers
Many a time we get into a disagreement because it attacks our vulnerable spots or triggers the memories of a past, traumatic experience. These triggers bring fear and an awareness of our limitations, something most people aren’t happy facing. However, realising that this new situation with this new person doesn’t pose the same harm as any other previous experience helps you detach from the situation and look at it objectively.
3. Find common ground
We may think that we’re different from the rest but there are always a few commonalities that bind us together. We all seek similar things – happiness, health, love and acceptance. We may not go about the process the same way, but at the end of the day, we should remind ourselves that our driving forces are similar. Finding common ground over fundamental values can pave the way for further understanding and eliminating differences in opinions.
4. Be a listener
In any conflict, both parties wish to be heard, this is only fair isn’t it? But what this means is as you expect the other person to hear you out, you need to show them the same courtesy of being a good listener. A good listener is someone who is curious, open-minded and free of any judgement. A good listener listens with complete attention, asks questions instead of making statements and doesn’t become defensive or argumentative when faced with an opinion he/she doesn’t agree with. They listen by staying silent as that’s when they learn best.
5. Make a commitment
How many times has a disagreement flared so big, it ended with one of you walking out the door? Intense disagreements usually trigger most people’s flight or fight response with at least one or sometimes even both parties quitting the topic altogether. The frustration and anger those conflicts bring can be overwhelming but showing your commitment to getting to the heart of the matter will convey how much this relationship, professional or personal, means to you. Even if you’re unhappy with their behaviour or something they said, you need to separate yourself and not take things personally.
Disagreements are a part and parcel of life, something that usually keeps coming and going. But they don’t necessarily need to be destructive. If you’re mindful of the way you conduct yourself, if you indulge in positive language and open-minded thinking rather than conflict-building behaviours, you can work it out faster, better and quicker. You’ll rise above such conflicts in the healthiest manner possible, acquiring more knowledge and information that empowers you.