When disagreements arise there is always the possibility that they will escalate into an argument or fight. The very nature of dissension triggers feelings of uneasiness in the average person. Most of us struggle with some degree of insecurity. Contradictory ideas, needs, beliefs, ways of doing things, or opinions challenge us and may threaten our sense of safety or question our level of intelligence. Our natural response to any perceived threat is resistance – we fight to preserve our integrity, to get what we want, or to prove ourselves right. The more we assert ourselves the more the other party feels threatened and will also put up a fight as well, each seeking to win on some level. And so, a vicious cycle of self-protection evolves. But there is another alternative. One can actually win through a process of non-resistance. Consider the following suggestions:
1. Curtail your ego. Ego is that part of the persona that defines one’s self-esteem and importance. It is the “I” portion of who we are. A healthy ego is essential to our well-being as it helps to define in our own minds who we are and serves to maintain a certain balance in relationships. However, it can also prove to be the bane of our existence. Egos can create a false sense of importance, raising ours above that of others and creating an imbalance in the relationship. In that instance, it serves to break down trust, communication, and concern for our opponent, placing the needs of “I” above that of the other. Pay careful attention and keep your ego in check so as not to have it interfere with a productive disagreement.
2. Trade arguing for discussing. Fear is the culprit that leads an innocent disagreement down the dark path of fighting. The moment the individual places their needs above the other, or feels as though they are not being heard and considered, anxiety manifests and one seeks to protect themselves from a perceived enemy. Raising one’s voice, making threats, and physical intimidation serve to level the playing field. However, if even one party makes the decision to simply discuss the issue rather than argue, they must prepare themselves should the other party insist on bickering. One must resist the temptation of falling prey to their tactics and employ diffusion strategies to prevent the situation from escalating.
A discussion is a sharing of ideas, thoughts, and desires in an effort to better understand both sides without the need to be right. It forms an alliance with the other side. An argument is based on the need to win, to be right, and to seek victory over the other person. One views themselves as separate and apart from the other (adversaries) and more entitled. The argument ensues and progresses in fear.
3. Seek to understand: a lack of understanding impedes the discussion and resolution process. Only when we are willing and able to view the issue from the other person’s perspective are we able to see their point of view and are better able to empathize with their feelings and desires, regardless of how different they are from ours. Resist the need to resist their input. Be open-minded and fair.
4. Be generous. Find a way to give the other person what they are seeking. Whether the individual wants to be acknowledge for their efforts, appreciated for their input or ideas, be thanked for lending a hand, to be told or shown that they are valued, or perhaps receive a tangible form of recognition such as a gift, plaque or trophy, make the extra effort to comply with their requests. It sends the message that they matter.
In any disagreement people generally anticipate that their opponent with become defensive and hostile. However, if you respond with non resistance, that is that you are willing to listen, to understand as best as possible, and to consider their perspective, they will let their guard down and generally be more cooperative. In this way, both sides expend minimal amounts of energy, maintain their personal integrity, preserve their relationship, and improve their chances of finding a mutually agreeable solution.
Remember, winning does not mean acquiring everything you were seeking. It often means placing the other person ahead of yourself, putting their feelings and needs first, making certain that when the discussion is complete that they feel satisfied enough to put the issue to rest. When others feel heard, understood, and valued they are far more willing to work with you making certain both sides get what they wanted. In this way, through non-resistance rather than combative strategies, disagreements are more easily and satisfactorily resolved.
“The kindness you extend to others always finds its way back into your life, so be generous.”
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