“So you’re telling me you think that all of our country’s problems can be traced back to what Obama did wrong?” Fred asked - his arms tightly folded across his chest.
“I didn’t say that,” Bert responded, tapping his chest. “If Obama wasn’t in office though, we wouldn’t be facing half the problems we’re facing today, like so many jobs going overseas.”
“Like that’s Obama’s fault?” Fred responded, shaking his head in disbelief.
“Like yes! What are you a commie? Don’t you see what all these liberals have done?”
“Right now, I only see one thing. And that’s what a moron you are!”
Imagine where this “conversation” is going! No surprise that Fred and Bert’s relationship has zipped downhill, despite their friendship being decades old.
Too bad! Disagreeing disrespectfully is so easy. You shout, give quick digs, “got cha” comebacks, name-calling, disdaining, disparaging the other’s viewpoint, shaking your head in disbelief - how could you even think that way???
In contrast, disagreeing respectfully is so much harder. And we rarely, if ever, are taught how to do so. Moreover, in the heat of an argument, it’s not a gut feeling; thus it doesn’t happen naturally.
So, if you see the value in learning how to respectfully disagree, read on. This skill applies not only to political disagreements but also to disagreements on all topics.
Our country has gotten so polarized that we cannot even speak to people with different politics with anything approaching respect. If we trash rather than listen to those who disagree with us, how are we ever going to get along or search for solutions to the problems we face?
So, how about starting now. At home. Open up a conversation with your kid who disagrees with you about so many things. Employ the six points above. Notice at the end of the conversation if you and your teen feel more kindly to each other.
Now, try the 6 steps with someone you disagree with politically. I don’t expect you to end up being kissing cousins after your conversation but I do hope that you might have a better understanding of the other person’s viewpoint and perhaps even find some middle ground that you both agree on.
Here’s to becoming more skilled at the art of disagreement!