Disagreements are inevitable. However, how you choose to handle a disagreement is extremely important. Here are some tips on how you can resolve disagreements without being hurtful to others:
- Whenever possible, use “I” statements instead of “you” statements to express how you feel. If you frequently use “you” statements during a disagreement, the other person might become defensive. Proverbs 18:19 says that “An offended brother is more unyielding than a fortified city.” If a person is offended, it’ll be much harder to get him/her to understand your perspective. So, instead of saying: “You hurt my feelings when you went out with Sara instead of me yesterday,” you might want to say something like: “I was disappointed that we didn’t get a chance to hang out yesterday.”
- Avoid ‘low blows’! Don’t use another person’s weaknesses against him/her when having a disagreement. The Bible is clear that we’re supposed to speak edifying words. Having a discussion to resolve concerns and issues is healthy. However, your words should never be used as weapons to hurt other people.
- Watch your tone and volume. Disagreements can easily become full blown arguments if you don’t watch the tone and volume of your voice. Screaming matches are not only exhausting but they’re ineffective! When two people are screaming at each other, they’re no longer listening to one another. In this state, absolutely nothing gets accomplished. Remember to show self-discipline by controlling the way that you speak to the other person.
- Establish the purpose of the discussion beforehand. Go into the discussion knowing exactly what it is that you want to accomplish. This is NOT the time to bring up old issues unless that’s the purpose of the current discussion. Stay focused on the issue(s) at hand so that you can come up with a resolution that is acceptable for both of you.
- Physical altercations are NEVER okay! It doesn’t matter how angry you get during a conversation, it’s absolutely never okay to touch another person! If you’re that angry, then the discussion should be discontinued and resumed again when you’re better able to control your emotions. In fact, it might be helpful to ask an adult to mediate the next discussion so that everyone remains safe.
- Most importantly, be sure to PRAY before and after the discussion. Ask God to give you the words to say to the other person and be sure to allow yourself to be guided by The Holy Spirit. Satan lurks around constantly, waiting to find a way to create chaos. God is love, so if your words or actions don’t demonstrate love and respect for the other person, then it’s probably the enemy trying to bring about destruction. Remember — it’s possible to disagree in a loving manner. Also, remember to pray AFTER the discussion to thank God for His presence and to ask God to help you to move past that situation
Check back soon for my series on how to handle your emotions when interacting with other people!