Learn how to disagree agreeably

April 29, 2011

We all know a person like this: Whenever someone disagrees with them they immediately get defensive, combative or maybe just flat out rude. We know we don’t want to be that person, but do know how to disagree agreeably?

A process helps us organize our thoughts so we can state our opinions with confidence. What do we do when we disagree with the opinions of another individual or group? How do we disagree agreeably and still be heard? Astute professionals strive to keep lines of communication open.

So what process should you be following? When you hear the statement you don’t agree with, take one to four seconds for reflection: What do I think? Why do I think that? What evidence do I have?

Then, offer a cushion. A cushion is a transition that doesn’t agree or disagree. It acknowledges the person’s point of view in a friendly way, and keeps the lines of communication open. Avoid using words like “But…,” “However…” and “Nevertheless…” because it puts the other person on the defensive.

Now it’s your turn to offer your side of the story. Good ways to start include “My example is…,” “The evidence shows that…” and “Therefore, I believe.” These statements illustrate your point of view in a nonconfrontational way.

And if you think not using the word “But…” when starting your response to someone you disagree is easy, it’s not! It takes a lot of practice, but that’s OK. Just the fact that you’re aware of how you might be perceived by others and the fact that you’re working to improve on it will mean a world of difference.

Can you think of a person in your life who you’ve argued with or disagreed with in the past where this process might be helpful? Share any recent experiences in our comments section.

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Dale Carnegie Training of Birmingham, Alabama, providers of professional development and management development courses and information in Birmingham, Alabama. We would love to connect with you on Facebook and Twitter @DaleCarnegieALA.

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