Constructive Conflict: How To Have A Conversation with Someone You Disagree With
So, you’ve found yourself in a situation where you are having a conversation with someone who has a different opinion than you. Maybe it is even an opinion that you vehemently disagree with, causing bile to rise up from your gut. It’s okay. Here’s how to handle it.
#1 - Take a Time Out.
If you are feeling angry, defensive, and reactionary – you are in your reptile brain, and there are only a few things you can do in your reptile brain: Fight, Flight, Fawn or Freeze. Since none of these things will not help to have a productive conversation, you need to get back into your cortex or thinking brain. Remember, you can always ask for a moment to think, you can count to 20 in your head before responding, or excuse yourself to the restroom or to get a drink. Do whatever you need to do to create a bit of time for yourself to get out of your reactionary mode. (For more information about that reactionary space, also known as an amygdala hijack, check out my blog here.)
#2 - Listen.
Okay, now that you are back in your cortex and you can operate like a human and not a reptile, the first order of business is to listen. Now, let me tell you a secret about listening… most people don’t know how to do it. The lack of listening skills is epidemic in our American culture. I have a blog on listening skills here, but these are the basics you need to know in a situation where you are conversing with someone with a vastly different opinion than you:
“You said it even better than I could have said it”
“Yes! You totally get me!”
Then, and ONLY THEN, can you go to the next step.
#3 - Share your position.
Now that you are positive that you’ve heard and understood the other person, you can clearly express your opinion. To allow yourself to be more easily heard, use these tips:
➡️ Be aware of your energy. Lets be honest here, when someone thinks that you are wrong, dumb or foolish – you can feel that energy. All of us have had a time when we’ve experienced someone’s words being nice, but their energy saying something very different. So, keep your energy open and curious.
➡️ Keep your Language Positive. Stay away from name calling, labeling, or using sweeping generalizations.
➡️ Use Expansive Words. Stay away from closed words like “always” and “never” that limit possibilities. This also includes ‘should-ing on’ people. Don’t ‘should’ on someone. No one should be a different way. Allow others to be exactly who they are. For list of expansive language, click here.
➡️ Do not use sarcasm. Sarcasm can often be misunderstood and can frequently feel like a put-down. If you do use sarcasm, clarify it and your reasons for using it.
➡️ No ad hominem attacks. This basically means, do not direct your argument against the person, remember to direct it at the position they are maintaining.
➡️ Offer Respect. ALL of us have value and our environments created all of the opinions, feelings and thoughts we each have. Stay open and curious about why the other person sees the world as they do (especially if it’s vastly different than your own world view).
➡️ Check in. Ask the person to repeat in his or her own words what you have said so that you can make sure that no miscommunication has occurred.
You can repeat this process as many times as you need to. Even if both of you walk away retaining your original opinions, you will walk away feeling good because you have been heard, accepted, acknowledged and respected.
It’s not about forcing people to think like us and be like us, folks. It is about sharing ourselves in an open and vulnerable way and listening to others with the intent to understand them.
This is communication. This is how we make a difference in the world. If you are interested in more on this topic, I recommend Energy Leadership for an inspiring, easy read about how your energy communicates to others, and the power behind learning how to use energy in your life.
I also love Marshall B. Rosenburg's book, NonViolent Communication. Rosenburg says, "Empathy allows us to re-perceive our world in a new way and move forward." I couldn't agree more.
Say Goodbye to Hustle Culture
Hustle culture can be described as a lifestyle that touts overworking as the only path to success, self-worth, and earning respect from others. Hustle culture would have you believe that the more you do — the more valuable you are, and that in order to be ‘good enough’ you must squeeze out every last ounce of productivity from your day, often sacrificing self-care, rest, friendships, or hobbies. Hustle culture lures you with the promise of ‘having it all’, if only you work hard enough.
The problem with the hustle culture belief system is that it doesn’t serve human beings. We were not designed to work long hours, or to be singularly focused. Research shows that human beings experience the most contentment and meaning from multifaceted lifestyles. When a person’s life is filled with varied hobbies, types of rest, exercise, friends, work, and new experiences, they report having the most joy and satisfaction in life. Additionally, research shows that a balanced life breeds more productivity. So, the question is, why are we sold all of the hype if it doesn’t work?
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Mindy Amita Aisling