Disagreement – the easy way and the hard way

We can often sense it when a conversation devolves into a disagreement – frequent use of the word “but”, raised eyebrows and defensive responses. Given this situation there is the hard way and the easy way to proceed.

The easy way is to dig in deeper with our argument – to adopt a more dramatic stance, to invest more force and to speak louder. A little anger often accompanies and amplifies this approach. The easy approach feels good in the moment, but ends with our partner raising their defensive walls and closing themselves off.

The hard way is to realize that the other person has a different point of view, and to invest in understanding the way they see the world. This implies a return to listening and empathy when a conversation turns difficult. This response is hard and feels terrible in the moment. It doesn’t come to us naturally. And yet, it lies at the crux of expert negotiation.

As philosopher Martha Nussbaum says, anger is how we seek to create an illusion of control where we feel none


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