Throughout our lives, there are times (sometimes many times) when we disagree with someone about an issue.  Whether that person is someone we work with, live with, or relate to on a regular basis, knowing how to disagree with them without being disagreeable in an important skill that will increase your effectiveness and personal power.

Two basic things are required to effectively disagree with someone without being disagreeable, the first is knowledge of oneself and second, communication skills.   Let’s look at knowledge of oneself first.

In order to know what you don’t agree with you first have to have an articulated sense of your ideals, values and the way that you look at the world.  You must also have the clear understanding that the way that you see the world is not the way that anyone else necessarily should or does see the world.  When you disagree with someone you have a difference of opinion or a different outlook than the other person, but to disagree effectively requires respectfully acknowledging the other’s position while simultaneously holding onto your position clearly.  You become disagreeable when you mock, belittle or scorn the other person for having a different view of the world. 

Communication skills are the key to revealing where you disagree without becoming disagreeable. Good communication skills require listening and speaking – not just speaking.  When you realize that you disagree with someone take the time to be sure that you fully understand what it is they’re saying before you share your opinion.  (You would probably not be surprised to hear that often people get triggered by events and “think” they heard something that they disagree with when in fact it was not stated.)  Before you speak out about why you disagree take a moment to ask if you heard them clearly.  Once you are clear that you heard what they are saying, then speaking calmly and clearly state that you don’t agree with what they just said.  You can state that their position is frustrating for you or even that you find yourself feeling anger, but don’t act on the anger – they won’t listen if you come at them like a ticking bomb.  They will do what everyone does when in the presence of a ticking bomb…they will leave!

Take time this week to reflect on whether in your conversations with others if you are able to disagree or if you are experienced as disagreeable.  If you aren’t sure ask someone who you can trust to give you an honest answer.  The world needs all of our opinions if we are to heal and we need to share them well.