Have you watched any of the political debates lately? I know I try not to. I feel like I don’t actually learn anything about the issues anyway. They are so busy attacking each other as people they forget to talk about the issues. I wish I could say the trait of attacking a person’s character when disagreeing with their opinion was limited to politicians. But unfortunately that isn’t the case. Most of us will go after the person rather than talk about the problem; and that doesn’t solve anything. In fact, I would go so far as to say there is no such thing as personality conflict; only two people who don’t know how to communicate about a problem.
Notice the next time you disagree with someone:
- Are you talking about the problem, how it makes you feel and how you would like to see it solved?
- Are you talking about the person, what they did or didn’t do and how they are wrong?
When you are asked a question:
- Do you give a straight answer that you can own? “I think…” “My thoughts are…” “I would suggest…”
- Do you hedge and give grey answers that could be misunderstood or easily retracted? “Well, it could be that…” “Maybe it could be considered…” “There are thoughts that…”
If someone provided evidence that you were wrong or mistaken:
- Do you look at the new information to determine if it warrants changing your opinion and if so, do so graciously?
- Do you respond with pompous disregard, argue against or attack the source of the information before you even look at it completely?
Too often many of us behave like the politicians we dislike watching on TV. We don’t take the time to figure out what we really think or feel about a situation before we go spouting our ideas. And when we come up against someone who disagrees with us we are more likely to attack the person than the problem, issue or topic.
To avoid the pitfalls of this type of fruitless interaction the next time you find yourself in a disagreement or feeling angry ask yourself these questions:
- What is the actual problem?
- What happened that I would like to see happen differently next time?
- Do I really believe this person is bad person and that they are out to get me? (Be careful how quickly you answer this question ‘yes’. Most of the time the answer is ‘no’.)
- What do I need to make it ‘right’ or ‘whole’?
Once you have those answer you are ready to have a conversation rather than a confrontation. You have to know where you stand and be honest with yourself before you can effectively disagree, discuss or debate with someone else. If you don’t know where you stand and are trying to impress the masses you are likely to lose yourself.
What do you think? How often do you see other people attacking the person rather than the problem? Are you able to admit you do it to? Give us your best tip in the comments for true problem solving.