Even the most tolerant and even-tempered of us can become embroiled in a disagreement from time to time. Whether it occurs between friends, family, or co-workers, we won’t always see eye to eye with those around us.
As has been discussed in this blog in the past, there are ways to diffuse arguments and misunderstandings. When problems do occur, however, they are most often resolved as the result of a lot of back and forth and a long-awaited mutual consensus.
Below are a few tips for learning how to agree to disagree.
Agree to disagree: This may be the most important rule for maintaining a diplomatic environment at home and in your office. Sometimes, you feel one way and your boss feels another –say about the most effective way to approach a client–and no amount of back and forth with sway either party. In this case, the best thing you can do for the overall productivity and peace of the environment is to accept the fact that complete agreement, like a stress-free holiday season, is an impossibility. You won’t be able to reach the decision to disagree amicably without acknowledging that there’s nothing left you can do to convince the other side, so acknowledge this. Out loud. Do not waste everyone’s time by persisting on an argument that you know no one will win. Once you have done this, however, everyone involved can move on.
Compromise: Just because you openly admit and accept that you and your boss or colleague, for example, are never going to agree on a point, this fact doesn’t mean that you and your boss or colleague cannot cooperate to reach a compromise. Once you’ve resolved to recognize the divergent positions involved, everyone involved can work to establish a middle ground.
Get creative: Finding this middle ground is, of course, completely dependent on the issue being debated and the chasm that exists between the two (or more) sides. However, this challenge to tackle is a great opportunity for everyone involved to reach beyond the comfort zone and pull out a compromise or concession on which everyone can agree. If you can be the one who does this, you have not only communicated effectively but you have stifled a sticky situation.
Work alone: This may require everyone to step back and brainstorm on their own. While finding a middle ground or compromise among two or more people may seem to require teamwork, particular problem has already proven to be one where heads butt. So break it up, agree to disagree, and scurry off to your respective corners. Allow time for basic introspection. If your differing opinions are something you can’t overcome, then perhaps there’s a bigger issue at hand.