Danielle McCarthy


How to disagree agreeably

How to disagree agreeably

A disagreement doesn’t have to devolve into an unsightly argument. Here’s how to disagree with respect.

1. Be calm

This is the most important thing you can do in a situation like this. A disagreement, even a simple one, can quickly cause emotions to become charged. That’s when you will start yelling, levelling insults and generally getting worked up. Take a deep breath, clear your mind and focus on what it is you want to say.

2. Stick to the facts

A respectful disagreement is one that focuses on logic, not emotion. Place your emphasis on reasoning and facts rather than straying into subjective territory. You will also need to make sure your facts are correct, so be wary of taking someone to task on rumours or hearsay.

3. Be respectful

A disagreement is never one sided, so you will need to listen to the other person’s side of the story. If they feel that you are genuinely listening to them and hearing their opinion, they will be more likely to think favourably of your argument. And it goes without saying that yelling, threats and foul language are always off limits.

4. Use “I” rather than “you”

A simple language trick will prevent you from sounding too accusatory and confrontational. Try saying “I feel hurt when…” instead of saying “You hurt me when…” This should prevent the other person from being on the defensive while still allowing you to express how you feel.

5. Don't try to win

The aim here should be to clear the air and reach a mutually agreeable resolution, not to score points. Try to focus on understanding what the other person has to say and getting your point across clearly. That way, you can clear the air and everyone can move forward feeling happy with the resolution.

6. Pick your battles

Disagreement is a part of life, so don’t feel the need to go into battle every time you have a difference of opinion. Take stock and decide if this issue is something that you really care about or if it would be easier for everyone if you just let it go. Sometimes silence is the best option for everyone.

How do you handle disagreements with respect? Share your advice in the comments below.

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