The Art of Disagreeing
Written by Aysha Ives | November 26, 2011
Disagreements are inevitable. You won’t always agree with the beliefs of others and everyone won’t always agree with yours. Because of differences in culture, background, upbringings, and values, people view the world differently! So, how should you handle disagreements?
Learn to disagree gracefully.
Throughout Jesus’ ministry, He knew The Truth and shared it with the world. He recruited men, women, and children as He tried to share the wonderful Gospel with them. However, He was not always well received. Some people were so threatened by Him that they gossiped about Him and eventually decided to kill Him. Yet, despite it all, Jesus never tried to force people to agree with Him. He told them what they needed to hear and He allowed them to choose whether or not to listen.
I bet you’ve experienced similar situations. Have you ever tried to share knowledge with others who weren’t ready to hear it? It doesn’t have to involve witnessing the Gospel to others: It could be something like stepping in when a friend was being bullied or when you overheard someone gossiping about a classmate. Perhaps you were trying to communicate new information or a different way of doing things and someone else decided that your words of wisdom were untrue.
Whatever it was, if others disagreed with you in an inappropriate manner–maybe by ridiculing you, or by saying hurtful things–it was likely a very difficult situation to endure. You may have felt defensive and even lashed out in anger. Since angry disputes can cause unnecessary strife, let’s explore a few ways to handle harsh ridicule:
- When people disagree with you in an inappropriate manner, be sure to address the behavior. Maintain your cool, but explain to them how you expect to be treated. Share with them that you don’t mind their feedback, but that you do expect them to offer it appropriately.
- Sometimes the best response is no response. If someone is trying to get an emotional reaction from you in front of a group, and doesn’t respond well to your redirection, you might want to try walking away. Approach the person again later, when s(he) is alone. People often respond much differently when there is no audience around.
- Check yourself! Be sure that you’re also interacting appropriately and that you’re not appearing judgmental or overly critical. Also, try not to be too demanding. Remember, “I” statements work much better than “you” statements.
- Remember that just because someone doesn’t agree with you doesn’t make what you’re saying untrue. If you truly believe what you’re saying or doing is the right thing, and it’s not hurting you or another person, then stick to your position. It’s okay to be different and God calls you to be a leader! However, make sure that you’re well informed if you’re sharing The Gospel or other important information. You don’t want to spread untruths to other people.
- Never EVER underestimate the power of prayer! If you struggle with handling disagreements appropriately, ask The Holy Spirit to guide and teach you in this area.
How do you disagree gracefully?