Disagreement and Stress

Disagreement between people causes stress—there’s no doubt about it. Sometimes the disagreement elevates 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. Rather than let a disagreement escalate, 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.”

At the worst you have clarified. At the best you have minimized any disagreement and reduced stress for both parties. In any event, it’s good to know where you agree and where you differ.

The key to making this work is to state at the outset that your goal is not to win the argument. Clarity is far more important than agreement, and clarity leads to reduced stress.