A Happiness Journey

How to disagree with someone

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you’re having a lively discussion with someone about something you care deeply about, only to discover that you do not agree, one iota, with their perspective or their belief? How did that feel? Did you think “oh good, an opportunity for me to understand another perspective on something important, I love those!” or did you find yourself getting annoyed, maybe a little indignant? Maybe you got an uncomfortable feeling in your gut where you became a little flustered or stubborn? Maybe you wanted to stop listening to this person all together? Don’t be alarmed if you sit more in the second camp than you do in the first. The majority of people don’t know how to disagree with someone and do it with comfort and ease.


In fact, in relationships, it’s a huge issue, where there may be something our partner believes that is contrary to what we believe, and we literally refuse to discuss it with them. It becomes one of those topics never discussed. We’ve all heard the old adage, never discuss religion or politics around the dinner table and this is why. Because people do not know how to disagree with people with comfort and ease.


What tends to happen is we feel incredibly protective around our belief, so there becomes only 2 options, make the other person agree with us, or eliminate the other person. We eliminate the other person in a variety of ways. We shut them down, we walk away, we shame, belittle or ridicule their beliefs, or we prohibit the discussion ever happening again. The reason we do this is because we genuinely think that we are RIGHT. We forget that what we are holding onto so tightly, is actually our OPINION. We think that somehow we have the monopoly on the TRUTH, something that only we have access to, or something that only we have the intelligence to grasp. Thinking something is true, however, just because you believe it so hard, does not actually make it true. It’s always just your opinion, it’s always just your perspective and your personal belief. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could just bring all these different opinions and beliefs together, and just let them co-exist, without having to fix or convince the other person?


The only issue you have with what your partner, friend, or colleagues believes, is what you THINK about their belief. It’s your thoughts that cause your feelings. The other person having different thoughts about things don’t cause your feelings. Being upset about what someone else chooses to believe is your fault. It’s your brain, having thoughts about them that makes you feel all the negative feelings. It’s important to realise your colleague or partner is not upsetting you, your BRAIN is upsetting you. Your thoughts about what they are saying is upsetting you. The words they are speaking are just words, they are completely neutral until you have a THOUGHT about them.


Can you disagree with your husband and still love him? Can you disagree with your colleague and still hold space for their opinion?


By not allowing someone to share and talk about their beliefs, what we are ultimately communicating to them is that we don’t want to know what’s true for them, we don’t care about their beliefs, we don’t want to know what’s on their mind. We only care about OUR beliefs, we only want to know what’s on OUR minds.


Now imagine a world where everyone thought the same thing. Imagine a world where everyone had the same favourite movie, the same favourite food, the same religious belief, the same political view point. Does this sound like a world you want to live in? Completely taking out of it, the fact that we all are born with different personalities, for us to all have identical beliefs we would all have to have had identical upbringings, and this is NEVER going to be possible.


Our beliefs and options are shaped by our country of birth, the time we grew up in, the beliefs and opinions of our caregivers, the stuff we watched on TV, the teachers we had at school, the friends we hung out with, the books we read etc etc. So it stands to reason that our beliefs and opinions are going to be as unique as we are. So instead of holding onto the belief that we own the monopoly on the TRUTH, why don’t we strive to understand why the other person thinks the way they do? Wouldn’t it be more exciting to look at a difference of opinion with curiosity? An opportunity to expand your own level of understanding? Once you hone the skill of listening to understand rather than listening to respond, we can then practice the art of listening without judgement. Holding a space of non-judgement means you can disagree with someone and still stay present with them.


You may continue to disagree with their opinion but at least you now understand why they think the way they think. This can happen once you understand how they were raised and what they were taught growing up. Once you understand how different we all are it’s so much easier to accept them and love them. It’s very important to separate what someone is saying from who they are as a person. Just because they are saying something you disagree with doesn’t make them a bad person.


If you can let people believe what they believe and you can hold space to hear where they are coming from, you may then also get to express how you feel from a place of where it might be heard. Oftentimes, when we disagree with someone, we might raise our voice or speak to them in a way that prevents them from wanting to understand us. We don’t want to understand them, but we want them to understand us because WE ARE RIGHT! Coming from this type of energy is really not going increase our level of influence in any way. In fact, if anything, we are more likely to turn them off of our opinion all together. If you ever stand a chance of having any influence over someone else’s ideas whatsoever, you first need to understand where they’re coming from first, and meet them where they are.


So, how do we do this?


Firstly we need to become aware of what it is about the other persons opinion that upsets us so much. What are the thoughts we are thinking that is causing us to react in this way?

Know what you believe, what your reasons are for believing it, where the belief came from, whether the belief is actually yours, and if you even like what you believe. Does it accurately reflect who you are, your values and what you stand for? So often we’re repeating the words our parents have said to us. We’ve never actually question whether WE believe those things too.


Then, listen to understand. Really hear what they are saying and try to be fascinated by it. When you notice you want to interrupt them, interject with your opinion or tell them they’re wrong, instead say “tell me more”. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with them. You can even say “I don’t agree with what you’re saying but I really want to understand why you’re saying it.”


Notice your feelings caused by your thoughts as they’re speaking. Consciously choose how you want to respond, don’t just react.


Oftentimes, when we disagree with someone, we don’t even want to tell them we disagree with them because we’re afraid they’ll judge us the way we’re currently judging them. However, learning to hear other people disagree with us, and hear their judgements about us, is a fantastic way of upleveling ourselves. Especially if we can practice not take their judgments personally. Once we can accept that other people will disagree with us, and that’s ok, it prevents us from feeling the need to control or manipulate others. Being able to hold disagreements in a place of equality and love is a beautiful thing and it shows real emotional maturity. That’s where the magic happens.




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