Agree to Disagree
In life, it’s inevitable that one will interact with someone who has a different view than you. Whether in the realm of politics, religion, social justice, business, or otherwise, there are circumstances where two people disagree and neither will budge on their view. What is one to do? Consider the following when you feel you are between a rock and a hard place:
Hear all sides out: In a situation where opposing views want to be heard, it is important to make efforts to hear an idea out. This includes listening intently, asking clarifying questions, and saying back what you are hearing to make sure the speaker’s intent is clear and understood.
Be transparent: Disclosing how you are feeling can help change the temperature of a social interaction. Whether disclosing you are a learner or assuring someone that you are listening, making sure to express where you are mentally or emotionally in the conversation can help keep a conversation friendly. It can be less provocative to share from your own perspective (e.g., I feel, I think, I believe).
Knowing when to step away: In some instances, you may see the conversation heading in a direction you are not comfortable going. If that’s the case, consider saying, “I’m not feeling comfortable right now continuing this conversation and I would like to change the subject.” This can work, but there will be times that walking away or taking a break are the only options.
Remember that having a different view or hearing a different view isn’t easy. But with practice, maybe the next time you have to agree to disagree, it will be a bit easier.
Lou Lim is a licensed mental health counselor and registered expressive arts therapist (REAT) with a master's degree in Expressive Therapy and Mental Health Counseling from Lesley University. He is a member of the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association and on the committee for REAT credentialing. He has 13 years of experience in counseling and expressive therapy working with children, adolescents, teenagers, adults, and retirees.
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