Disagreements provide valuable lessons. You benefit most when you open yourself to learning.
Vickie voiced her opinion of a presentation to her friend. Yolanda’s opinion differed in some respects, and when she voiced the difference Vickie became instantly defensive, insisting she was right. Yolanda looked at her and simply restated her impression of the speech. At that point Vickie went ballistic. When she collected herself she told Yolanda she didn’t want to be friends any more.
A long standing friendship ended over a trivial disagreement. How sad.
Disagreement and conflicts are inevitable. Most of the time they are even good. It is in our disagreements and conflicts that we often learn and grow the most.
Disagreements derail for many reasons. Perhaps Vickie was simply having a bad day that day. Maybe Vickie is a right-fighter, unwilling to accept others might label her as wrong, stupid, controlling or something else less than flattering. It might be the friendship snapped under the weight of ignored issues. It could be a combination of issues.
People form opinions based on their life experiences, knowledge and character. Their opinions are right—for them. Expecting everyone to agree all the time makes no sense. It can also lead to stagnation and a loss of creative thinking.
Disagreements Lead To Growth
When encountering disagreements, looking at them as opportunities for growth typically makes them easier to deal with. Emotions don’t get in the way when learning.
Learning from disagreements requires you ask yourself: “What can I learn from this?” You then listen carefully and ask clarifying questions until you fully understand the other viewpoint. Many conversations derail at this point because people mistakenly think listening and understanding equate to agreement. They don’t. They demonstrate an open mind willing to learn and grow.
It can take courage to embrace that openness. It requires you acknowledge you don’t know everything. On learning more it is entirely your prerogative whether or not you add nuance to your opinion or even change your mind. This does not diminish your current understanding or position. As Maya Angelou said, “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” Updating your thoughts and ideas as you grow shows maturity—even if you decide to completely reverse your position.
What Do Disagreements Have To Do With Respect?
Allowing room for disagreement allows people to be honest with each other. That shows respect. Expecting people to conform to you and your ideas silences their voices and/or pushes them away. That shows disrespect.
Next time you find yourself disagreeing with someone, take the opportunity to deepen your understanding, and remember that differing opinions is both normal and good.