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In this blog post you will find 14 Super Simple Ways To Have A Civil Disagreement.
Everywhere you look someone is getting offended by something. The sky is too blue? Time to protest. It’s raining because the weather is anti-feminist. Yes, I’m being a little dramatic and a little sarcastic – but not by much. The trend these days is to get upset over every little thing.
Especially politics, religion and other hot button topics. This is just a small guide to have a civil and respectful disagreement with someone who might have a point of view that is different than yours – and avoid the screaming matches.
1. Have A Civil Disagreement By Understanding That Different Points of View Are OK.
People who do not share your point of view are perfectly within their rights to have their own point of view. Not everybody has to have your perspective.
I simply cannot emphasize this enough.
You can have your point of view and other people can have theirs. The world will not end just because other people think differently than you do.
When you engage in a disagreement, recognize that they are allowed to have an opinion. You are not the opinion police and you can exchange ideas but you do not have the right to force your opinion on them.
Otherwise you turn into one of those creepy religious cult people who go crazy. You turn into an Archie Bunker, or a Maude, or a George Jefferson.
Don’t be like one of those characters. (Though, the actors playing them were BRILLIANT.) You’re better than that!
2. Have A Civil Disagreement By Asking Yourself Is It That Important
Is this disagreement really that important in your life? Or, is it the kind of disagreement where you cover the same ground, over and over, and nothing changes?
I mean seriously. Do you really think that telling your family about how much you like/dislike a political figure is really going to change their mind? Or when you post it on Facebook, do you really think that you’re one post is going to make people vote your way?
Let me be blunt and downright rude. The answer is no. The only people you are talking to are the people who already agree with you, or people who might have unfollowed you, or the person who wants to rattle your cage for funsies.
That sounds cruel, but it’s true.
I have a friend who has a different political orientation than I do. However, she and I will have polite disagreements all the time, because we’re both getting each others perspectives. That is something that is worth the time and effort.
The reason is because we’re not preaching to each other. We know at the end of the day, we’re still going to be friends, but we’re getting insight from each other.
This is why before you even speak, you need to really evaluate if you’re helping someone understand your point of view or if you’re just wasting your breath.
3. Have A Civil Disagreement By Carefully Listening To The Other Person
The biggest mistake we make as humans is that we don’t actually listen to each other. We only hear what we want to hear.
The other person may say something very important to you, a topic that they feel is important. Read what they write to you, listen carefully to what they say – rather than thinking of how you will respond.
If you’re not listening to them, you’re sounding like those obnoxious talk show hosts that that scream over each other.
By listening to the other person carefully you may pick up on things they may not know that much about, you may pick up on their interests in the topic, and even what makes then so passionate about it. You can get a lot of insight into another persons thought process just by listening to them.
4. Have A Civil Disagreement By Differentiating Your Beliefs And Societies
This is super important. There are your beliefs, and there are societies beliefs. Your beliefs and values may be different than societies or your niche group you are in.
For example: Society says that Kim Kardashian is beautiful. I personally don’t find her beautiful (beauty is in the eye of the beholder). Others may not think Beyonce is beautiful, but I think she’s gorgeous.
Society and the news media will tell you how to think, what to think, how to see things and how not to see things. You may or may not agree with those standards.
It is okay to be a free thinker. You don’t have to agree with what your niche tells you, or the group of people you hand around tell you. But, I want to really impress upon you that your thoughts must be separate from other peoples. Use your mind, and think for yourself.
The reason this is so important is because if you think for yourself, and not follow people like a lemming, you will be able to defend what you truly believe more convincingly than what you don’t believe.
Most people can catch regurgitated nonsense from opposing points of view. But, when you can offer insight into it, and how it impacts you – and it’s genuine – then it becomes more valuable.
5. Have A Civil Disagreement By Treating It As A Learning Experience
I’m going to blow your mind here. Ready? Really ready? Ok.
Are you sure?
Ok, don’t say I didn’t warn you…
You don’t know everything.
And guess what? I don’t either.
I know. Your mind is blown – isn’t it? I’ll give you a second to let that soak in.
It’s devastating to learn, isn’t it? *Sympathetic pat on the shoulder*
Now that that’s over with, we can move forward. By understanding that in the grand scheme of things we know that there are facts in the air, and facts on the ground, there are just some things we just don’t know.
There are two sides to every story. Mine, yours and what actually happened. We can listen to speculation all day, but until our happy butts are in the room at the time of whatever the topic is about – we have no clue what happened…
Just what we heard.
That’s why we have to use these discussions not as a form of combativeness but more as a form of understanding one another. Use it as an educational experience that you can learn from the other person. Ask them questions that you want clarified – even if you think that person is crazy and dead wrong.
The reason is because you’re learning about them and their thought process. It’s really kind of cool!
6. Have A Civil Disagreement By Understanding You Can Still Be Friends
Sometimes you can have disagreements and you’re just not going to see eye to eye with another person.
You know what? That’s when you say – hey, we don’t agree on this topic, we can still be friends!
Chances are the topic will be dropped and you’ll be friends and all is well. Or, you know the topic isn’t going to change that persons point of view, but you know at the end of the day, you will still be buddies.
But if you get one of those people who starts screaming: “No, we can’t be friends, this is absolutely inexcusable!” Well, I’m going to tell you this in the kindest way possible…
Good riddance. Let that person leave your life. The reason? If you’re willing to meet them half-way and they aren’t willing to do the same – whose doing most of the taking in the relationship? Who is the one being taken advantage of?
Yeah, chances are that person never cared about you in the first place, and if they are so irrational that they refuse to even speak with you over something (like say politics or a religion) and have a discussion – well, let me say this in the nicest way possible.
The definition of a cult is when you cannot ask questions of it’s ideology and you are ostracized because you had the audacity to do so.
Yes, some ideologies are akin to a cult. It may hurt losing that friend, but in the long run, you are so much better off without them.
7. Have A Civil Disagreement Educating Yourself By Looking At The Other Side
The definition of wisdom is having the ability to look at multiple sides of issue. This is a hard one, because you will find that there are some issues you are dead set against. You don’t want to know more about a group or a persons belief’s, you know they are bad people!
But, you have to look at everything from different perspectives if nothing more than to strengthen your own opinion and to get an idea of what other people might feel about it, and their thought process behind it.
You will find that there is some good behind each thing, and some bad. You might discover that you actually have a lot in common with the other side. Heck, you might even find out that the two sides have the exact same goal – it’s just another strategy to get to it.
Be so certain in your beliefs that you are willing to look at the other side, and to learn as much as you can.
8. Have A Civil Disagreement Looking At The Facts
If I could make this a commandment I would. There are facts that must be looked at – and there is opinion. Facts are not what you hear on TV, the radio talk shows, or god forbid, the national news. The reason? They pick and choose the facts they will give you.
Additionally, they have an agenda, and they will spin it nonstop. When I say spin, they give an opinion or speculation. Don’t worry, we’ll cover that in the next point.
You can often get the full story by using many techniques. But above all, go the source of the documentation. And, often, you can find it online or at the county courthouse.
You can find these documents – especially political type documents – under any .gov website. To find fact you have to be really good at research – but research is easy – albeit time consuming.
The more facts you know the more you can make a decision for yourself and to provide a good discussion. You can also back up your claims! YAY!
9. Have A Civil Disagreement Ignoring Opinion
Let’s talk about opinion. Can I tell you how often people base their opinion on other peoples opinion? Mainly, they base their opinion on what the news tells them?
Before you freak out and tell me that I’m wrong you can look at the news – mostly national news like CNN, FOXNews, MSNBC, and CBS and know right away that they are pushing their own agenda down your throat.
Here is why you have to always be careful with what they report.
They will use statistics for their own agenda.
The statistics – or polls – are only representative of a handful of people.
They can and will slant their opinion using “scare” words and use other techniques to get you to their point of view.
But the biggest part of wanting to ignore the opinion is that opinion is like a game of telephone. I can say something along the lines like: I don’t like roast. And by the end of the game of telephone the last person who it was whispered to will say: I don’t roast duck.
Well, that’s a little unnerving, for sure, but that’s what opinion does. It filters out what was actually said and what actually happened, and replaces it with emotion.
You can respectfully listen to another persons opinion, and that’s fine, because you’re sharing ideas, but when it comes to a discussion don’t bring an opinion into it unless it is well informed.
10. Have A Civil Disagreement Protecting Your Emotions
Speaking of emotions, when you have a civil disagreement leave your emotions at the door. Seriously, don’t bring them in. Why? Because you can gauge when other people are getting angry – and you can stop it.
Never get angry or mad or cry during a disagreement. Remember, when you talk about sensitive topics like politics or religion you are discussing not only your personal beliefs and thoughts, but also someone elses.
By getting angry you start the shouting matches, or negating what the other person feels and what they find perfectly valid.
The moment the other person gets angry end the conversation.
11. Have A Civil Disagreement Being Polite
Above all things, be polite. Be polite, be polite, be polite. Be nice, and be kind, and let them know you are hearing them. Don’t be snarky (which is crazy hard for me because I am totally the queen of being snarky – or have you notice? LOL) or rude.
It can be crazy hard because sometimes someone says something that is just so out there, you seriously cannot fathom how they could possibly think that. However, when that happens, you can either end the conversation right there or say something like, “that’s very interesting, tell me more…”
But again, try to be polite and don’t laugh in the other persons face unless they are laughing with you.
Trust me, you can laugh later, but at least you held your end of the conversation with politeness.
12. Have A Civil Disagreement By Never Name Calling
This is the moment you lose all credibility. The moment you call someone stupid, or idiotic or moronic.
During the last election I saw these words and other names being called left and right.
Sorry, the moment you call me stupid is the moment everything else you’ve said goes out the window, and I know that you’re doing nothing but regurgitating stuff you heard on either talk radio or the news. In other words, you don’t know where you stand on the issue because you haven’t done your research.
Name calling tells so much about a person and what they have done and not done. You can see it a mile away and you want to run from it.
Instead of calling a person stupid perhaps say, “I don’t agree with that persons thoughts or what that person said, because I feel that guy didn’t think before he spoke.”
The reason you want to avoid calling a person a name is because that’s offensive. By calling an idea a name that’s even worse because the idea probably came from the person or a belief that the person held.
Instead of name calling just try to avoid it. Sometimes, it can be hard. But it can be done!
13. Have A Civil Disagreement By Avoiding Telling The Other Person How they Feel
You don’t know how they feel. You can’t dictate how another person feels. You can empathize with another person, and you can understand how they feel, but you cannot tell a person how they feel.
Again, it’s one of those personal things that is an unconscious power grab by you or the other party. It’s really unique how powerful your words are.
Finally, by letting the other person express to you how they feel, you can assess to see if you feel the same way. It’s really fun to learn that a person on the complete opposite side of the issue is just as frustrated or disappointed by things as you are.
14. Have A Civil Disagreement Knowing When To Walk Away
There are some people who simply cannot be reasoned with. They are the people who blame everybody, who continue to insult you, and they are irrational. They let emotions flood into them, and they are so indoctrinated in their ideas that they will not listen to any other view point.
That’s the saddest part, and that’s when you know you need to walk away from the discussion. The discussion will take a drastic turn the moment name calling begins, and the moment you notice someone getting angry, sarcastic or caustic.
Just politely excuse yourself and walk away from the conversation – be it online or somewhere else. It will only cause you pain and anxiety.
These are just a handful of some ways to remember the art of having a civil disagreement. The idea with any discussion is just that – to have a discussion or an exchange of ideas with the understanding that at the end of the day – the relationship you have with other people will not change for the worst.
Which of these are you going to try?