We are social beings. It’s the way God created us to be. Many times in life, however, we’ll find ourselves discussing opposing views. Sadly, and especially nowadays, this often sparks confrontation, stress, arguments, unrest, and in worst cases, violence. It doesn’t have to be that way. Listening to others and sharing our own viewpoints is an integral part of the ebb and flow of life. It’s all about relationships, whether we engage in discussion with a spouse or other family member, a co-worker, friend or stranger.
Next time you are discussing opposing views, keep the following tips in mind. They’ll come in handy if your goal is to complete the discussion without tempers flaring or things getting out of hand.
Discussing opposing views is a good thing
It’s important to remember that it’s a good thing to be discussing opposing views. There may be times when someone gives you a fresh perspective. You may wind up changing your opinion after listening to other opinions and information. Even if you don’t, the fact that you and another person or group are willing to share ideas knowing that you’re operating under separate belief systems is a healthy and helpful activity.
It’s okay to agree to disagree
Do you really want to go through life being so close-minded that you refuse to hear out anyone whose opinion differs from yours? What good does it do? Instead, remember that it really is okay if you agree to disagree. You can still share your thoughts with one another and respectfully appreciate each other’s viewpoints. It’s better to accept the fact that neither of you will change the other’s mind than never to discuss a topic at all simply because you disagree.
Find common ground when discussing opposing views
When discussing opposing views, it might be possible that there are one or more issues or ideas that you and the other person have in common. This is a basic negotiating skill in business. If you try to find issues you agree on and go from there, it makes the whole discussion less stressful. Finding a core issue where you are like-minded allows you to build the discussion from that point outward. If tensions begin to rise, you can keep returning to that central focus where you stand in agreement.
Always be humble and kind
It’s worth quoting Tim McGraw’s lyrics when discussing opposing views. If you are humble and kind, you can’t go wrong, even if you and another person disagree. If you feel tensions rising, take a break from the discussion, drink some water, take a short walk or step aside to spend a few moments in prayer. Better yet, pray together and ask God’s guidance to help keep your discussion amicable and peaceful.
Maybe it’s better to end the conversation
There are many complex or sensitive issues that evoke strong emotions on both sides. If you’re discussing opposing views, and you don’t feel that the conversation is progressing in a healthy manner, you might be better off ending the discussion altogether. Especially if someone is getting angry or is showing signs of aggression or unkindness, why keep the conversation going? Sometimes, it’s best not to.
Discussing opposing views isn’t always a “right or wrong” issue
Not every discussion has to include someone being right and the other person being wrong. Sometimes, there isn’t a right or wrong because you are merely sharing your personal opinions. The best way to avoid stress and confrontation is to remember from the start that it’s not about being right or winning an argument, it’s about learning to really listen to others and to be willing to share your own thoughts, even when you know the person you’re talking to doesn’t agree with you.
Everyone is entitled to an opinion and free speech
If you want to improve your skills when discussing opposing views, accept the fact that every person is free to form his or her own opinions, no matter the topic. You might not like what someone is saying. However, he or she is entitled to think or say or express his or her thoughts whether you agree or disagree. If you begin a discussion with that in mind, things are less likely to get out of hand.