What does it mean to disagree? Often when we disagree with another, we can get stuck in a loop of our own perspective. It’s difficult to slow down or stop the momentum once you are engaged in a heated discussion or disagreement. If you can reflect on the experience, you could grow.
Though it’s not my strong suit, I’ve been working on being a better listener. In this I find that when we argue and communicate with another, we are often distracted by thinking of our own response rather than truly hearing the other’s perspective. Our egos can fixate on wanting to be “right” or proving our own points. Whether or not we agree with what the person is saying, we can listen to allow some understanding of why they feel or see the way they do.
When we truly use the art of listening, not only are we hearing the person from a deeper level, we are more present with them. We are holding the space to let them express their feelings and perspective, and we are respecting their time to communicate. If we can allow them the time to share their experience before wanting to jump in, argue, or respond, we allow a deeper connection.
I’m still practicing on this myself, but I’m learning if I respond too quickly, I miss the opportunity for the growth and connection within myself. In addition to listening better, I’m also learning that when I may disagree, I can still infuse the experience with respect and love. It takes me practice and I don’t nail it every time. I’m simply doing better than I used to. Communication with each other is often our biggest barrier. Since it can be tricky to get your message or feelings across, we can hold the intention of love in our heart while discussing matters. It helps to remember the person you’re speaking to might understand, see, or experience the subject matter differently than you.
I have a dear friend Steve. Among the many things I admire about him is his strength in listening and the respect he gives when he listens to you even when he may disagree with you. He has always held space to hear me out and my perspective on a topic or situation. When he responds he validates what has been expressed to him which shows me he really listened. Then when uses his turn to speak, He will then proceed to give some feedback from his perspective. I have to point out that I also I love the Art of how he responds. Commonly when he uses his turn to speak he proceeds by saying Joy… For me…,” which seems to give this little magical space of responding from his perspective without losing the respect of my own. Many times he will come at the topic from an angle that I haven’t experienced or maybe observed before. The way he delivers his conversations makes me feel comfortable hearing a potentially different or opposite perspective. What I think he infuses in his art of communicating is being able to have a conversation without judgment.
He inspires me to be a better communicator and listener. Learning and observing this from my friend over the years helps me to disagree better. I don’t think we are often taught how to respectfully disagree with one another and it often comes out messy and offensive furthering misunderstanding one another. Once we create harsh feelings and defensiveness we put up a wall preventing growth and expansion. We become more consumed in how we see things and narrow the space we can hold for one another.
Understanding our flaws in listening and disagreeing with another is one thing, and practicing is another. Sometimes it starts with small steps of awareness. The next time you feel like you are moving into an argument or feel the discussion getting heated and rousing up negative feelings, ask yourself how you want to continue to navigate. You can slow the momentum down by saying, “I may be coming through from a different experience, let me hear more from how you see or experience it.” Or you could say, “You know, you may be right or onto something I hadn’t considered.” It may feel a little difficult initially, but you are not agreeing or disagreeing with them. You are just finding a way to connect deeper and an opportunity to listen or even disagree with love and respect over hurtful comments and feelings.
If you find yourself really down the rabbit hole, you may simply need to look at the other person and apologize for the argument. Tell them how you feel about them and acknowledge the relationship is more important than the different perspective. You may need to walk away and allow peace and calmness to return. You may not be able to turn every disagreement around so quickly and easily, but as you reflect on these instances, you can choose another direction in the future.
With so many platforms that we now receive news and information from, we can easily get into heated discussions or arguments on large scale problems. You can scale it back and think of simpler comparisons to help you through the sludge. For example, I simply do not care for sauerkraut. My entire family loves it. My father makes it from scratch and prides himself on his craft. It is also nature’s probiotic and very healthy for you. I can give you so many examples of why I could enjoy sauerkraut, but no matter what another’s reasoning or perspective is, I simply do not like sauerkraut. I have my reasons to back it up. I don’t care for the taste, I once got very sick on cabbage and prefer not to eat it ever since, and I can’t get past the smell very well. Like many disagreements, everyone has their reasons to back up their opinions. I may strongly dislike sauerkraut, but can respect that my family loves it. We just lovingly disagree.
Life is a lot like the small things on a larger scale. When you disagree with someone over their beliefs, politics, or preferences, just remember it is okay to disagree. We can be better humans to each other by allowing more artful and peaceful conversations with each other. If we can do this with our everyday conversations, imagine what a difference we could make in mending disagreements that affect the world at large!