Disagreement between people causes stress; there’s no doubt about it. Whether the disagreement is large or small, it can quickly ruin a relationship.
Sometimes, even for small matters, the disagreement escalates to the point of verbal fighting. Once that occurs, the stress levels of both parties will be high, and agreement will be elusive. Fortunately, you always have a choice in how you handle a situation.
Chances are you can tell when a disagreement is escalating. This is when you must take control and direct the conversation. Rather than letting a disagreement get out of hand, you can reduce stress by doing the following.
Say to the other person, “I don’t want to win. I just want to understand what you are saying. My objective is to CLARIFY, NOT INFLUENCE. You’re saying that you believe A, B, and C. I believe A, B, and D. So we really agree more than we differ.”
By stating this calmly, the other person will naturally match your level. The stress for both parties will reduce.
Even if the disagreement persists, you’ve still made progress. At the worst you have clarified. At the best you have minimized the disagreement and reduced stress for both parties. In any event, it’s good to know where you agree and where you differ. From there, you can focus on solutions rather than all the obstacles.
Tip: To minimize disagreements, state at the outset of the conversation that your goal is not to win the argument. It’s to clarify. Clarity leads to reducing stress.
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