There is nothing quite as stimulating as a good fight. Mahatma Gandhi said, “honest disagreement if often a good sign of progress.” I so agree. I love discussions… and love it even more if a person not only has an opinion, but is willing to discuss it. Where I draw the line is when they judge me for having a differing viewpoint.
Disagreements happen. You can’t always get your way. Everyone (well, hopefully) has an opinion. There are two sides to every argument.
When you are dealing with family or friends, you expect to have differences of opinion. Perhaps you are willing to fight for your views and what is important to you. But usually, because of the personal relationship you have with that person, you find a way to work things out.
Disputes that are not worth pursuing or arguing about fall into several categories:
- The other person will not change. Perhaps they are just as grounded in their principles as you are, and not willing to listen or consider another point of view. These are the folks that will judge you for being wrong… no other way… just their way.
- The results won’t change the outcome substantially. Think hard about whether is more important to get your way or to just let it go.
- All the facts aren’t available. Decisions need to be based on the best possible information. Guessing to fill in the blanks will not benefit anyone. Don’t make up facts or say things that you know are wrong to “win”.
- Other issues are more important. Keep your priorities straight and concentrate on the most pressing issues. Not all issues carry the same weight.
- You’re just trying to prove yourself, not improve the situation. What you will prove is that your ego is more important than the problem you are trying to solve.
- You really have no chance of winning. You may be a voice in the wilderness and 100% correct in your assessment, but save your breath until you can realistically bring others around.
But there are valid reasons for holding your ground which need to explanation. Pursue a fight when: your own ideas are being stolen or your reputation is at stake. The action being taken is unethical or illegal is another good reason.
When an argument ensues, focus on the issue, not the person raising the objection. Make sure your facts are correct and complete. Have documentation available to back up your points. Stay calm – yelling and ranting make you look out of control rather than on top of the issue. Respect the other people and let them have their say. Compromise wherever possible. Bear in mind that you will have some of these folks in your life after the “fight”.
Letting a disagreement fester is counterproductive in many ways: it creates a hostile environment; discourages friendships, wastes time and resources and in the end, accomplishes nothing. Everyone loses.
Fortunately, with some prep, you can improve your chances of persuading others to consider your ideas. If I know I am going into difficult negotiations, I don’t want the result to be an argument. I want everyone to feel like they contributed to the solution. It has to be a win-win situation.
- Anticipate the sticking points. I never walk into a presentation, meeting or any discussion without considering what issues and objections might arise. I develop a game plan to deal with concerns and to convince them that the solution I am proposing will address their objection.
- Stay on topic. Stick to the issues and redirect the conversation back to the original issue if the conversation wanders… and wander it will…………
- Don’t take objections personally. Pay close attention to the reasons others are challenging your ideas, and try to see the issues from their perspective. If my solution creates a new problem for them, I am willing to reconsider. The point is to solve problems.
- Ask for help. I look to others for great ideas. This accomplishes two things: it helps me see the problems from several points of view and it demonstrates that I am willing to look at things from all sides. I want the best ideas out there and I don’t always care where they come from.
Differences of opinion don’t have to be dead ends. Learn how to pick your battles and put your energy into finding the best possible solutions.
You know, you have a right to fight for what’s right…. (then, of course, there is my brother, who I just like to argue with… not fight… just offer an opposite opinion from whatever he is thinking… so much fun pushing his buttons… hmmmmmmmmmmmmm.. I always tell him I am proud he has an opinion…. That alone gets him going… good thing we are good friends….)
I am off….. it is hard arguing with myself… although it has happened…. Coffee????