221: Agreeing to disagree isn’t good enough

Something I have noticed lately is a tendency to ignore rather than discuss difficult situations. So many of us worry about saying the right thing the right way so that we don’t cause conflict or drama. We want the other person to not be upset with us, or reject us. So, for the time being, we believe it’s best to avoid the difficult interaction. We do nothing about the situation or we might walk away saying, “Let’s agree to disagree.”

The more I study interactions and the TELL message, I realize avoidance is actually false logic. Bringing up a difficult situation with someone does not have to imply conflict and drama. Nor does it imply rejection or the other person being upset.

Actually, not bringing up important, difficult disagreements with those closest to you is what may eventually cause conflict and drama in life. If the disagreement is about a behavior that is not benefiting each of your life stories or not benefiting your relationship, it is better to talk about this sooner than later. Learning to TELL better in such moments may not be easy in the short run but worthwhile for the long run. Relationships grow deeper when you can lovingly discuss disagreements.

Having a conversation when there is a disagreement is seldom easy. It requires being bold. It requires focusing on accurate and reliable facts. It requires empathic listening in order to hear the other person’s point of view and bringing out the relevant facts. It requires being able to affirm the common points of view and narrowing in on the actual disagreement. Discussing a disagreement takes courage.


Disagreements become emotional, and that is what complicates matters. We tend to ignore facts and speak emotionally in our pain. We allow our anger, frustration, disappointment, or hurt to be the center of words and actions. When we ignore disagreements, do not talk about disagreements sooner, the emotions definitely build up.

On the other hand, disagreements are how people and ideas grow – for better or worse. Relationships and situations grow when disagreements are resolved. When people discuss facts and have a desire to make the story better, that is how the experience can cause the relationship and situation to become better. When the disagreement remains a conflict, the relationship and situation suffer for the time being.

The other day, I was talking with a friend about having disagreements, and he added, “Well, don’t both people have to agree to resolve the disagreement? What if I want to resolve and the other person just continues to focus on the disagreement?”

It certainly is much easier to interact when both people want to resolve a disagreement; however, your words and actions become even more critical in situations where a person remains in conflict, remains in the disagreement. In those moments, you can be the catalyst toward a resolution by asking questions, by becoming curious to hear the other person’s thoughts behind the disagreement. “Why do you think that?”; “How do you know that?” If it is personal, “How would you like me to respond?” In other words, the manner you handle such interactions can be the difference.  You can be the reason the disagreement has a chance to move toward resolution. At a minimum, you can be the reason the interaction doesn’t grow more negative.

It’s not easy to have these interactions. We all have a tendency to react to the words we hear, the actions we see – especially when the experience stirs emotions. This will continue to be difficult for you unless you start developing the habit to TELL in such situations.

Today, or the next time you are in a disagreement, bring to mind thoughts such as ‘resolution’, ‘curiosity’, ‘listen’, ‘patience’…. it might just turn the conversation around into a good TELLing moment! #TELLforGood

Focus: Teach, Encourage, Listen, LoveTags: #, #, #, #, #, #, #, #, #

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