Updated: Apr 27, 2022
Seriously. You don't have to reach agreement with someone when your opinions diverge. In fact, you can just ignore it completely.
Unfortunately we spend a lot of energy and time trying to either:
Convince another person you are correct
Question your own convictions
Both of these options steal our joy and serve absolutely no purpose in the world. And I would offer that it's actually impossible (most of the time) to change someone's mind when they feel strongly about something.
I know. It sucks to think that we have no choice but to leave all the ignorant people in the world to carry on with their own opinions.
I can't help but giggle. It actually sounds crazy when we say it. How dare people have their own beliefs???!!?
I coach myself and clients to instead enter into their disagreements with a plan:
Notice when you first sense a disagreement. You will feel it in your body. You may tense up, want to immediately speak out, sigh, roll your eyes, etc.
Take a moment of stillness. And commit to listening fully.
Ask clarifying questions without intent to argue. And truly listen to the answers. You may learn something about the other person.
It seems we are hardwired to dive into an argument at this point. Hey Taurus-- I'm talking to you.
We choose to go into battle over the smallest things. Particularly when we believe that the other person isn't just holding an opinion, but is actually incorrect about facts.
Let's play out a scenario. Say your husband says "I do a lot of dishes." And you think- what?? Are you actually insane? I do dishes 17 times a day. You, husband, do not do a lot of dishes.
Now here's where I'm going to lose some of you.
If you disagree with this person's opinion or thoughts - do you need to let them know at all???? I'll put serious humanitarian and big world issues aside for now. The seemingly small things in our daily lives matter and they are the focus here.
Back to Mr. Clean's faulty opinion. What he expressed is his reality. To him, he does a lot of dishes. His definition of 'a lot' is relative to his own experiences. So in fact, his statement is correct.
If you engage in an argumentative comparison, you seek to invalidate his experience. But he did not say the he does more dishes than you do.
So instead of creating an argument that serves no one, can you let him hold his belief and just move on?
What are you seeking by engaging in the argument? In this case (and many other relationship disputes), we are actually seeking personal validation. Rather than seeking validation by devaluing his experience, can you obtain validation in a healthy way that is independent of a comparison war? What might that look like?
You feel less resentment. How would that feel?
Another example - someone says that a restaurant you love is terrible. Maybe you immediately jump into a case for the restaurant. This is a minor disagreement, but it can possibly take 20 minutes to wade through this debate. In the end you likely won't change anyone's mind. And you hold the same opinion. You still love the place. Best chicken wings ever. Duh.
So was it worth the debate at all? How is your energy impacted by engaging these small disagreements? Whether you realize it or not, it increases stress hormones and takes time away from a potentially positive and more satisfying experiences with your friends.
How many times a day do we 'need to be right??" Many my friends. Too many.
Try this exercise on for a few days. Anytime you feel the desire to disagree with someone verbally, no matter how trivial, pause. Aknowledge the person's opinion. and just move on. Notice if you feel differently in the moment, and at the end of the day. I feel lighter and more at ease.
This is a life coaching tool I share with my clients. It's one of many small ways to change your life, your mood, and your wellbeing. It reserves your energy for passion and positivity.
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In Happiness & Health,