How to joyfully disagree

Door Patrick Verheij

Recently I was hosting an expert session with a group of people when suddenly someone vigorously exclaimed that she did not agree with me.\r\n\r\nI thanked her for that.\r\n\r\nQuite stunned she continued, repeating that she did not agree while attempting to explain why I was wrong.\r\n\r\nI thanked her again and told her I very much appreciated that she saw it differently.\r\n\r\nShe looked at me with a devastating stare. I could sense both anger and total confusion in her.\r\n\r\nI then explained the group that I very much liked her questioning whatever I was presenting at that moment because I like dissension.\r\n\r\nWhy? Because it breaks tunnel vision. It could start a meaningful dialog. It creates learning opportunities.\r\n\r\nAs long as we are open for it of course. And THAT’s exactly what’s not always happening.\r\n\r\nWhen somebody disagrees with a person, there is always some energy involved. One person uses that energy to ask clarifying questions to help her understand better while another person uses it to counter with an argument.\r\n\r\nWhatever happens to that energy is up to the people involved: clarifying questions help raise positive energy while arguing increases negative energy or takes all energy down.\r\n\r\nAn argument often starts when a person is not able to ask clarifying questions due to the fact that she experiences some form of anger, fear or confusion. When this happens in a group, a meaningful dialog will only take place when there are enough persons in the room to keep the energy going up in the positive direction. Meaning that they compensate for the people who bring it down.\r\n\r\nIn that we should remember that most people don’t choose to create negative energy on purpose. They are victims to their emotions.\r\n\r\nHow about you? Do you bring or take energy? Do you create positive or negative juice?\r\n\r\nIf you bring positive energy then keep that up! If you can already do it for just yourself, start experimenting with compensating for others. Try taking anger, fear and confusion away.\r\n\r\nIf you manage to create a foul atmosphere or take all energy away, then start being aware of that. What’s your first response when you don’t agree with something? Or deeper: what is usually your first feeling before you even start to respond?\r\n\r\nThe trick is to start enjoying to disagree. Then you can fully focus on your response and make that more kind, more interested, more positive, more caring, and more useful. Whenever you feel the negative energy rise again, either do something to flip it to the positive side or take it to a full stop. Refuse to argue with people who do not open up, because you will lose the match anyway.\r\n\r\nInstead, teach them how to argue by being a better arguer yourself.\r\n\r\nAvoiding an argument is basic advise you can find in any self help book. Actually enjoying a disagreement is way beyond that and could take you to new places where learning and making great friends happens.\r\n\r\nPS: You are welcome to disagree with this post 🙂

Patrick Verheij

06 59 443 447

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