The Secret to Resolving Disagreements Is Respectful Listening
Our lives are each varied and unique: We are entitled to our own opinions! Disagreements are not the end of the world—in fact, we should expect and welcome them. Of course, you also don’t want to let a disagreement create negative feelings in your friendship or professional relationship with someone.
These psychologist-recommended tips have enabled people to communicate and collaborate effectively in the face of differing opinions:
Listen: Really listen. Our thoughts and emotions can lead us to create an impression of someone else’s words and intentions before the full message has even been delivered to us! When someone speaks to you and you begin to detect a differing of opinions, do not start forming an argument against them in your head. Open your ears and allow your mind to take in what this person has to say.
Be Mindful of Your Body Language: Our bodies and faces can betray our thought processes if we are not careful. If you are giving physical cues that you disagree with someone, it may distract your audience or create unnecessary conflict. An open, friendly posture will convey your respect and welcome further conversation from the person speaking.
Repeat for Clarity and Understanding: Once you have heard what someone wants to say, repeat back what you understand their overall message or conclusion to be. Your repetition will convey you are truly listening, as well as clear up any chance of your misunderstanding each other.
Ask Open Questions: Open questions give people a chance to explain their reasoning and better inform you of how they reached their conclusions. Non-leading questions also provide a potential chance for both of you to approach a topic from a different perspective.
Stay Neutral: And respectful! No matter how strongly you may disagree with someone, keep the objective of your conversation in mind: Most likely, you are speaking to this individual because you are looking to solve a problem together or make a personal connection. In the end, you want to improve your ability to find solutions that make all parties involved happy. In some scenarios, you may determine your disagreement stems from a difference in your ideologies. You can still take ideas from each other without getting angry or offended! It may take practice, but it is possible. You may even find that the differing of opinions helps you find a solution that is the most effective overall and pleases everyone. Worried about keeping a polite face when you disagree with someone? Consider practicing respectful communication tactics with your mentor.
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