How to disagree respectfully when it seems like no one else wants to

Oct 5, 2020 | Marriage/Relationships

These days, it seems like disagreements and arguments are a normal part of everyday life. Human beings have always disagreed with one another over countless things, but the internet, especially social media, have enabled us to disagree and argue with hundreds of people per day when we otherwise would have gotten through our days without even thinking of half of the topics we spend time arguing about online. 

If you find yourself constantly arguing with people online, our advice is simply to stop. Avoid the platforms that give rise to these arguments. Get on Facebook less frequently. Or, when you do get on, resist the urge to join flame wars over politics, religion or whatever topic is hot right now.

However, you can never fully avoid disagreements in life. So, when it is inevitable that you need to disagree with someone about something, it’s important to do it in a healthy way.

Five tips for disagreeing respectfully

  1. Do not make it personal — One of the main reasons people get into loud arguments or resort to cruel words is they take the other person’s view personally. If you get mad during a disagreement, remember it is the idea that is upsetting you, not everything about the other person.
  2. Respect their beliefs — Don’t call someone else stupid for thinking what they think. Don’t downplay their entire belief system or disrespect their backgrounds. If you disagree with a belief they are presenting to you, don’t attack it. Instead, state that you do not agree and clearly outline why without yelling or using sarcasm or being mean.
  3. Do not accuse — Use “I” statements to communicate how you feel, what you think and what you need. Avoid saying, “You did this” or “You are.” Coming across as accusatory is a great way to drive a larger wedge between you and the other person.
  4. Listen — Be a good listener. Focus on what the other person is saying and try to really understand it from their perspective. Avoid listening only for the sake of building a response. Absorb what they are saying and affirm that to them before it’s your turn to talk.
  5. Stay calm — It’s hard to keep a conversation on track when one or both people are angry. It’s not always easy to stay calm, especially if you’re passionate about the topic. If you cannot manage to stay calm, you may need to politely excuse yourself from the conversation until you can return and resume in a calm manner.

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