How to Disagree Without Wrecking Your Relationships

Never before in the history of my lifetime, have I seen so much disagreement. And friends, we’re not good at it!

With the pandemic, the BLM movement, riots, protests, the election and political / religious views, there is so much discord it can be absolutely deafening.

Wear masks? Start school? Stand for the flag? Vote for____ ??? Believe the media? Participate in sports? Fight for the right to worship? Support law enforcement? Take a vaccine?………

There are a million things to argue about.

Families are being divided and friends are drawing hard lines in the sand.

I’ve witnessed it first hand and struggled with it in my own life, so I want to give you some tools to help you learn to disagree, without wrecking your relationships.

So much of the drama stems from all or nothing thinking.

When we have the idea that “I’m right, you are wrong… there is no in-between.”  We close the door on common ground, and common ground is where we can connect.

“You love your family, so do I.  You like football, so do I….”

When we look for common ground first, we can see each other as human beings, not just good vs evil.  Seeking to understand someone else’s experience helps us to gain perspective.

We need to ask ourselves this question, “Why do I feel so strongly about this? AND, Why do they feel just as strongly?” This is so important because it helps us to uncover the beliefs behind the behaviors.

Other people get to choose what they think and believe, just as we want to reserve that right for ourselves.  So seeking to understand other people’s reasons for their beliefs can help us gain compassion.  

Judging other people doesn’t make us smarter or more superior. It fills us with animosity and hatred and causes us to lose any power to influence.

Have you ever wanted to take advice from someone who judged and hated you?  Not likely.

Our judgment most often comes from fear.  We believe that if we don’t condemn others, it means that we are supporting or agreeing with them and we don’t want to experience the consequences of their beliefs.  

But we always have the option to love the person while condemning their actions… there’s a big difference.

One allows us to feel peace, while the other creates bitterness that poisons our own wells.

Have you experienced this for yourself?  You have an argument with your sister-in-law and you get so angry and frustrated that you obsess, spin and can’t even sleep?  

Your bitterness harms only you.

If we want to create a better world we all need to realize that it’s not our job to fix other people.

Our job is to love.

We have to ask ourselves, “What’s more important, the issue or the person?”

Maybe you are thinking, “Fine, I’ll love my sister-in-law, but we can’t be friends…”  

If you really want her to see things your way, you will never be able to do that by cutting her out of your life.

When you extend the love and respect that you would like to receive, your chances of being heard increase dramatically. 

We mistakenly think that if we show kindness and love, we are letting the other person win.  That if we back down, we lose control.  But that control is an illusion… it was never ours in the first place.

How many of us had any control over this crazy year?  We thought we knew how it would go, but NOPE!

Perhaps you are the aggressor in your relationships.

If this is true, please keep in mind that when you love to fight and love to spar… no one wants to play with you.

You can win the fight but lose the friend. Is it worth it?

Here are some final thoughts.

What we feed grows.  Are we feeding love or hatred?

Assume the best in others.  This doesn’t let them off the hook, this helps us to see the world in a more positive light, – and that simply feels better.

Ask yourself, “Do I live as Jesus taught, do I love my neighbor as myself?  If not, am I truly a Christian?”

We have no power to influence when we hate.

Loving other people is always an option and always our best tool for creating change. 

And finally, loving others doesn’t mean we love their actions, it simply means we acknowledge that we can only create more love in the world when we generate more love in ourselves.