On keeping a disagreement from becoming an argument

1. Don’t compromise yourself. You are all you’ve got. Janis Joplin

2.I found re-reading and acting on the following very useful recently. Pass it on.

On keeping a disagreement from becoming an argument:

Welcome the disagreement. Remember the slogan: ‘When two partners always agree, one of them is not necessary’

Perhaps this disagreement is your opportunity to check something before you make a serious mistake.

Distrust your first instinctive impression . Our first natural reaction in a disagreeable situation is to be defensive. Be careful. Keep calm and watch out for your first reaction. It may be you at your worst, not your best.

Control your temper. Remember, you can measure the size of a person by what makes them angry.

Listen first. Give your opponents a chance to talk. Let them finish. Do not resist, defend or debate. This only raises barriers. Try to build bridges of understanding not higher barriers of misunderstanding.

Look for areas of agreement. When you’ve heard your opponent’s view, dwell first on the points and areas on which you agree.

Be honest. Look for areas where you can admit error and say so. Apologise for your mistakes. It will help disarm your opponent and reduce defensiveness.

Promise to think over your opponent’s ideas and study them carefully. And mean it. Your opponent may be right. It is a lot easier at this stage to agree to think about their points than to move rapidly ahead and find yourself in a position where your opponent can say: ‘I tried to tell you, but you wouldn’t listen’.

Thank your opponent sincerely for their interest. Anyone who takes the time to disagree with you is interested in the same things you are. Think of them as people who really want to help and you may turn your opponents into friends.

Postpone action to give both sides time to think through the problem. Suggest that a new meeting be held later that day or the next, when all the facts may be brought to bear. In preparation for this meeting ask yourself some hard questions:

Could they be right? Partly right? Is there truth or merit in their position? Is my reaction one that will relieve the problem or will it just relieve frustration? Will my reaction drive my opponent further away or draw them closer? Will my reaction elevate the estimation good people have of me? Will I win or lose? What price will I have to pay if I win? If I am quiet about it, will the disagreement blow over? Is this difficult situation an opportunity for me?

After 50 years of marriage, Jan Peerce (opera singer) once said “My wife and I made a pact a long time ago and we’ve kept it no matter how angry we’ve got with each other. When one shouts, the other should listen – because when two people shout there is no communication, just noise and bad vibrations”

Taken from Dale Carnegie’s How to win friends and influence people (1936)

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