Have you ever been surprised when a conversation escalates into an argument? Welcome to the human race! But, wait! Before you shut down or attack, take a moment to understand what really happened. Consider it as an opportunity to strengthen the relationship.
Here are a few things to do quickly.
(PS: I don’t promise that this will be easy.)
- Stop briefly to understand why the conversation escalated. By doing this you are thinking and choosing your response. This will prevent you from immediately reacting, or to act without thinking of the outcome you desire.
- Determine if this person and the relationship are important to you? Is this issue important to you?
- Ask yourself, do I want to have a constructive conversation about the issue or the situation? Or, do I want to prove a point and win? If convincing is your goal, the argument will probably continue and perhaps damage the relationship. If neither of you is willing to engage in a civil discussion, best to leave it alone
It’s important to remember that mutual understanding and respect provide a strong foundation for trust and friendship. Disagreeing without being disagreeable and hostile is much more important than the actual content being discussed. Most of the time, reasonable individuals will acknowledge that others have valid rationale for their differing perspectives and opinions.
Willingness to acknowledge differences about important issues, and knowing where the other person stands and why it’s important, tends to make us feel safer. Transparency helps us to understand, accept and learn about divergent opinions, even when we don’t agree.
Showing respect and regard for others while disagreeing is crucial. Everyone has a right to his or her own opinions and positions. Separate the person from their opinion—it’s not their identity. Denigrating someone for their position gets us nowhere and solves nothing.
Again, I’m not saying that this is easy to do! However, when we are able to respectfully acknowledge viewpoints with which we disagree, we have the opportunity to:
- Learn more about an issue or a perspective different from our own.
- Clarify our own thinking when we articulate our opinion and subject it to another person’s challenges.
- Deepen the relationship by giving respect to the person by understanding their position on an issue of disagreement without criticism or judgment.