what not to do when people disagree

What NOT to do when people disagree with you

So a pal and I were having an exchange on Facebook about a particular issue. The pal was on one side, while I had a different point of view. I was explaining that I agreed with half of what the person was saying, but not the other half.

The next thing I know, the person posted a photo on my timeline of Nazis saluting.

Where the heck did that come from?

While I did wrack my brain for at least 96 seconds trying to figure out how this photo had anything to do with our exchange, I couldn’t find an answer.

Then I remembered that name-calling is an ongoing trend du jour for many, the immediate thing to do when someone happens to disagree with them. Not only is this practice tiresome, but it is also one we should have outgrown somewhere around third grade.

Where’s all the Emotional IQ?

When we’re on the receiving end of this name-calling, our first inclination may be to react with an equal level of maturity – and call them something like booger butts. But our first inclinations aren’t always the wisest.

That’s why we have a filter in our brains that lets us process emotions before they turn into actions. The better we can use that filter, the higher our emotional intelligence. And it’s never a good day when emotional intelligence levels hover somewhere around negative 300.

We can instead put our emotional IQ into high gear by managing our emotions, and thereby our actions, in several ways.

Don’t Take Anything Personally

The first tip comes from the Four Agreements, a book penned by Don Miguel Ruiz. The first agreement is “Don’t take anything personally.”

This bit of wisdom reminds us that how people react to things is not on us – it’s on them. It’s their beliefs, thoughts or even their mood of the day that determines how they react to what we say. If they lash out in anger when we share a point of view, they’re lashing out because of something inside their own minds – not from something we said.

Heck, technically we don’t even have the power to make someone angry. They make THEMSELVES angry by the way they react to things. Pretty deep, yes. Pretty cool, too.

How Important is It?

Asking yourself “How important is it?” is a reminder to put things into perspective. While I could have gotten really offended about the Facebook exchange and spent an hour trying to explain and re-explain my point of view, I decided to spend my time more productively.

So I got rid of the photo and went on with my day. Yes, I had asked myself “How important is it?” and found the answer was not at all. Not only was the issue under discussion unimportant in the grand scheme of things, but it didn’t matter if people agreed with me or not.

The world would be a bit more serene for many if they followed the same tip. Even if a particular issue is the most important thing in the world to you at the moment, ask yourself how important is it that people agree with you?

If you feel it’s VERY important everyone agree with you, ask yourself why.

Do you care what color they paint their living room? What kind of car they drive? If they name their cat Sammy or Moe?

Didn’t think so. If it doesn’t matter what’s in their house, in their garage or on their pet name list, then why does it matter what’s in their head?

Where Did These Beliefs Come from, Anyway?

A third thing to do when we’re riled up about someone disagreeing with our beliefs is to STOP – and ask where our beliefs came from in the first place.

This tip can turn into a giant ball of fun and games. It may be easy and obvious to pinpoint beliefs that are meaningful to us because we have personal experience with them. But it may be tough to put a finger on the origin of other beliefs that just sort of ended up in our heads.

Ask yourself WHY you believe a certain way. You may find it’s because:

  • That’s what you were taught or told to believe
  • “Everyone else” believes it
  • You saw it on TV
  • It’s what you’ve always believed without question
  • You have no idea

Beliefs don’t have to be lifelong baggage you just haul around because you feel you’re obligated to. They can change and grow as you do. In fact, it’s healthiest if they do.

So the next time someone disagrees with you, think twice before calling them a booger butt and pointing a finger of disdain in their direction. Dare yourself to look inside your own mind and soul instead.

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