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8 Strategies to Embrace Disagreements With Someone

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It’s tough to figure out how to make things right when you’re in a heated argument with someone, your stubborn parents, in-laws, or brothers and sisters. You might feel sure you’re in the clear, and the other person is not getting it.

  • Family Dinner Gathering Scene: You and your family gather for dinner, but tension rises as the elder parent opposes your suggestion to hire a caregiver. Mom insists she and Dad can manage independently, leading to a heated argument about independence versus safety.
  • Hospital Visit Scene: In a hospital room, your dad refuses to comply with the doctor’s orders, insisting they know what’s best for their health. Your sister tries to reason with them, but Dad’s stubbornness leads to a clash over treatment options and the importance of following medical advice.
  • Home Renovation Scene: As the oldest child, you present plans to make the home more accessible for your parents, such as installing grab bars and ramps. Your dad vehemently opposes any changes, insisting he doesn’t need help because he was an engineer and a skilled handyman. Imagine the scene escalating into a confrontation about pride, autonomy, and the need for practical adjustments to ensure the parents’ safety and well-being.

 

Instead of clinging to your viewpoint, consider these 8 steps to gain insight and reach mutually beneficial solutions:

  1. Temporarily set aside your thoughts and feelings about your “side” of the argument. By doing so, you can gain a better understanding of the other person’s perspective. Put down your position, at least for the time being. 
  2. Listen attentively. This step might be more challenging than it seems. While the other person is presenting their views, avoid immediately stating your own. Instead, listen with an open mind to what the other person says from their viewpoint. Remind yourself that you’re just listening for now.
  3. Try to be neutral. Avoid making judgments or comments and focus on gathering information from the other person. How are they feeling? What are their thoughts? What are their ideas on how to resolve the situation? Recognize that the other person may be firm in their beliefs. Avoid letting their emotional state influence you one way or another. Remember that the other person cares. They are as passionate about their position as you are about yours. 
  4. Acknowledge that they have a right to their opinion. Everyone has thoughts and opinions that differ from person to person. Consider the possibility of an agreement. What would it be like to agree with the other person? Did they present a strong argument? 
  5. Take some time to think about how accepting the other person’s perspective could affect you. Imagine how it would benefit both of you if you accepted their resolution. 
  6. Ask yourself if the situation is really that significant. You may realize that the conflict isn’t worth the energy either of you invested in being “right.” Consider a compromise. Can you meet halfway to settle the dispute? Negotiating and compromising can help both parties get what they want.
  7. Respect the other person’s position and agree to disagree if necessary. There will be times when you can’t agree with someone on a particular issue. At least if you can respectfully agree to disagree, you’ll have resolved some of the conflict. 
  8. Putting yourself in the other person’s shoes can be a valuable experience. If you set aside your feelings and listen without judgment, you’ll recognize that the other person is as passionate about the issue as you are.

As you begin to see the other person’s view and recognize the situation isn’t earth-shattering, you can start to think about meeting each other halfway. And in the end, you always have the option to politely disagree once you put yourself in the other person’s shoes.

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