Despite the fact that it is easier to agree than to disagree, we can learn a lot from our conversations if we listen and speak with kindness, reason, and caution.
Regrettably, many of us either avoid conflict entirely or lose our cool when things don’t go our way.
Keep these 5 suggestions in mind the next time you have a difficult conversation with a parent, friend, or anyone else:
- Avoid taking it personally. When you’re upset, remember that you’re upset with the idea or concept your parent (or friend, coach, coworker, etc.) is promoting, not the person.
- Do not criticize the other person’s ideas or beliefs. If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a tirade or put-down, you understand how important it is to use respectful language and behavior. Instead of saying what you’re thinking (“That’s a stupid idea!”), yelling, using sarcasm, or making derogatory remarks, try saying: “I disagree, and here’s why.”
- Express your emotions, thoughts, desires, or needs using “I” statements. Statements beginning with “you” can come across as argumentative. For example, instead of saying, “You always stress me out and put me under a lot of pressure…,” say, “I’m feeling pressured because I have a lot of assignments I brought home.” “Can I attend to these errands tomorrow?”
- Take the time to consider the opposing viewpoint. Being a good listener demonstrates that you respect and understand the other person’s point of view. It also increases the likelihood that they will reciprocate. Concentrate on what is being said. Resist the temptation of thinking about what you’ll say next or about why you disagree. When it’s your turn to speak, repeat any key points made by the other person to demonstrate that you listened and understood what was said. Then, calmly present your case and explain why you disagree.
- Maintain your cool. This is the single most important thing you can do to steer a conversation in the right direction. To be honest, it can be difficult to remain calm when you are angry or passionate about something, especially if the other person becomes agitated during the conversation.
It may be necessary for you to be the adult who controls the conversation, even if the other person is a parent or someone who should know better.
Of course, remember to be respectful at all times, not just during difficult conversations. Everyday acts of kindness and consideration for family members, teachers, and coaches help all of us—parents included!—lay the groundwork for future disagreements.
NB: Make sure to adjust each piece of advice here to fit your unique situation.
Thank you for reading.
A beautiful day to you!
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