How to disagree

Taken from the article Bits and Pieces in How to Win Friends and Influence People

By Dale Carnegie

Welcome Disagreement:

“When two parties always agree, one of them is not necessary.” If there is some point you haven’t thought about, be thankful if it is brought to your attention. Perhaps disagreement is your opportunity to be corrected before you make a serious mistake.

We often don’t consider how important it is to have our blind spots revealed. The problem is doubling down on bad ideas for the sake of your ego.

Distrust your first instinctive impression

Our first natural reaction in a disagreeable situation is to be defensive. Be careful. Keep calm and watch out for your first reaction. It may be you at your worst, not your best.

Mindfulness helps here. Being aware you are getting angry when you are getting angry is the first step to not reacting but responding.

Control your temper

You can measure the size of a person by what makes them angry.

Love that quote. You never win when you yell. Go ask your spouse. It doesn’t matter if you are right if you lose your temper.

Listen first

Give your opponents a chance to talk. Let them finish. Do not resist, defend or debate. This only raises barriers. Try to build bridges of understanding. Don’t build higher barriers of misunderstanding.

The last person to talk has the advantage of getting to hear what the other person had to say. When it comes to discussing ideas, listening first and talking last is key.

Look for areas of agreement

When you have heard your opponent out, dwell first on the points and areas on which you agree.

Framing an argument with points you agree on builds momentum. It catches their attention and it makes them more inclined to listen.  

Be Honest

Look for areas where you can admit error and say so. Apologize for your mistakes. It will help disarm your opponents and reduce defensiveness.

Same principle of momentum and building respect.

Promise to think over your opponents’ ideas and study them carefully.

Your opponent may be right. It is a lot easier at this stage to agree to think about their points than to move rapidly ahead and find yourself in a position where your opponent can say “We tried to tell you, but you wouldn’t listen.

Reminds me of Jordan Peterson’s rule to assume that the other person knows something you don’t.

Thank your opponent sincerely for their interest.

Anyone who takes time to disagree with you is interested in the same things you are. Think of them as people who really want to help you, and you may turn your opponents into friends.

If the goal is learning, then your opposing viewpoint is one of your best teachers.

Postpone action to give both sides time to think through the problem.

Suggest a new meeting be held later that day or the next day, when all the facts may be brought to bear. In preparation for this meeting, ask yourself some hard questions:

Could my opponents be right? Party right? Is there truth or merit in their positions or argument? Is my reaction one that will relieve the problem, or will it just relieve any frustration? Will my reaction elevate the estimation good people have for me? Will I win or lose? What price will I have to pay if I win? If I am quiet about it will it blow over? Is this difficult situation an opportunity for me?

This is a great checklist to review your purpose and your path. Always evaluate the cost of success and failure, not just the tactics.