How to Disagree without Losing Your Friends

With every discussion risking the offensive label . . . do you know how to disagree with upsetting others and risking your friendships

I took part in a survey this week. One that wanted my views on feminism.

With questions like:

Do you identify as a feminist?
Has feminism had an impact on your life?
Is feminism relevant to you?
Is feminism empowering?

The following is the Miriam-Webster Dictionary definition of feminism:
“The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities”

I don’t really want to debate the feminist movement because I’ve been blessed to never have a time in my life when I’ve felt unequal. Rev has always treated me as an equal partner. And I always felt valued and equal to my male counterparts as a teacher.

Why did I bring it up then?

Because I can’t help but wonder if there isn’t a better way to debate issues where we have differing views.

Feminism isn’t an issue for me, but I know it is for some.
I’ve not personally experienced racial discrimination, but I know it exists.
I haven’t made up my mind on gun control, immigration, and a whole host of other political issues . . . but that doesn’t mean I don’t care.

I want to listen. I want to be given a chance to learn more without being pressured to take a side or ridiculed if I ask questions or remain undecided.

I want to pray more than I am persuaded.

My favorite teacher growing up had a great sense of humor, funny nicknames for each student, and the ability to turn her normal speaking voice into a whisper when she felt her frustration levels rise.

And we listened. When she whispered we knew she had something to say.

Maybe we need to whisper more and listen better. Maybe we should make it a goal  to listen for understanding not argue to win. Maybe we need to learn how to disagree.

The truth – I don’t listen to shouting. I turn it off or shut it down. If you want to persuade me, you need to speak reasonably and respectfully. And I don’t think I’m alone in this.

With every discussion risking the offensive label . . . do you know how to disagree with upsetting others and risking your friendships...

What if we made the following goals for 2016:

  1. To listen first.
  2. To choose to understand.
  3. To pray for God’s views before we side with our friends or a political party.
  4. To share our views and personal experiences with gentleness and respect.

Remember – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
by Stephen Covey

1 – Be proactive . . . take responsibility for your life.
2 – Begin with the end in mind . . . have a personal mission statement.
3 – Put first things first . . . make choices based on your mission statement.
4 – Think win/win . . . put relationships first.
5 – Seek first to understand, then to be understood. 
6 – Synergize . . . practice creative cooperation.
7 – Sharpen the saw . . . “rinse and repeat” habits 1–7

So the question . . . Do you want to be effective or noisy?

As for me, I’m praying for effective. I’m praying for the Spirit’s guidance and for gentle and respectful communication. Do you care to join me?

Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. James 1:19

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  1. Michele Morin says:

    Deb, I’ve been pondering a similar theme. We get shrill when we become passionate, and maybe we’re not communicating as well as we think we are. I just finished re-reading a Madeleine L’Engle book in which she says (and, remember, she’s writing back in the 70’s when gender and race issues are FLAMING): “We make complicated what is simple, and the powers of darkness rejoice.”

  2. Jed says:

    Hey Deb,

    These are all such great points. I especially like your line, “If you want to persuade me, you need to speak reasonably and respectfully.” I would add, that it’s also OK to allow others to be wrong. Let me explain. There were many times in my life, where I needed to make a choice that was not the best, and then learn the hard way.

    There are times where I will speak my piece, and then let me children, friends, or spouse, make a decision that I don’t really like (This is a tool that parent’s need to use with caution, but there is a time and a place for it in parenting). The funny thing is that sometimes, I am the one who is surprised, and what I thought was a bad decision, turns our working out pretty good after all.

    Not every disagreement is worth arguing over. It’s important to always be respectful and to choose our battles wisely–Of course, this is easier said than done, and is something that I’m still learning how to do.

    Thanks for the opportunity to share in the link-up, and happy Friday!
    Jed recently posted…An Easy Way to Reduce Step-Parenting BattlesMy Profile

    • Deb Wolf says:

      That’s a great point, Jed. We call it “choosing your battles” at our house. Or you don’t have to attend every argument you’re invited to. It’s not easy as parents, but there are things that just don’t stick until they’re learned the hard way. Thanks so much for stopping by and adding to the discussion.
      Deb Wolf recently posted…Your Past is Forgiven and You Need to Let it GoMy Profile

  3. marthajaneorlando says:

    Such incredible wisdom here, Deb. What a better world this would be if we all listened to one another respectfully and agreed to disagree if necessary. I, for one, want to practice this more this year.

  4. Lyli says:

    This is so encouraging, Deb. Thanks for sharing. Covey’s book First Things First really helped me understand how to use my time more effectively for the kingdom. I’ve also read the 7 Habits and enjoyed your review of the principles.

  5. Wendy Johnson says:

    Sometimes I go to church and I know God told my pastor to write a sermon just for me, that is how I feel about your post today.

  6. Kristin says:

    I love your comment about listening. I’ve learned a lot in the last year to just walk away from so many situations that could end badly if i started speaking. Sometimes its best just to listen and stop there!

  7. Katie says:

    I want to pray more than be persuaded as well. So much wisdom in this post, Deb. I’ve noticed with maturity the value in being “right” seems to wane. Clearly there is truth and righteousness, but the battles we choose to fight are sometimes so far from that…and so much more about self. I sure appreciated your honest perspective.

  8. Joanne Viola says:

    Deb, there is truly much wisdom in this post. The loudest heard is not always the one containing truth. And there are many voices. May we listen with ears bent on discerning what is truth. I also do not do well with shouting or a conversation which makes me feel “bullied”. It is at that point, I shut down completely. May we all be respectful to one another. Let’s agree on that 🙂 Blessings to you!
    Joanne Viola recently posted…Stand & SeeMy Profile

  9. Andrea Stunz says:

    Great words of wisdom! I think you could have stopped at “Listen”. Arguments are futile if one is only wanting to hear the sound of their own voice. As if they are even trying to convince themselves that they believe what they believe.

    Thank you for linking up with my Saturday Share #LinkUp! Happy to have you over!

    Also, many thanks for the link up opportunity with you!

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