How to deal with people who you disagree with

“Agree to disagree.”  This is often what we attempt to do when someone else has an entirely different opinion.  But it’s not easy, especially when we feel incredibly passionate about something.

So what do we do when we are upset about another’s opinion or viewpoint?

This was the question I was challenged to answer for a group of High School students last weekend.  I share more about our conversation in today’s vlog.

The girls were all very upset about the Presidential election.  At the beginning of our time together, I gave them space to vent. There was a lot of “How could this happen? How could people vote for him? It is wrong that people agree with his beliefs.” There was a lot of anger, confusion and sadness.

I shared with the girls that there is what happens and then there is how we respond to what happens.  We only have 100% control over the later.  I asked them if they preferred to continue to be upset or if they were open to moving into acceptance so that they could transform their anger into action.  They all said yes.

I pointed out that by judging the “Trump side” as evil and wrong they were engaging in the exact kind of energy that they were upset by.  Light bulb moment!

One of the girls asked, “Well then how do we deal with people that we really disagree with?? That we truly believe are wrong?”

“Great question…” I said, “And probably not the first time that you will deal with others who don’t share your view point so this is an amazing opportunity for you all to learn how to act and communicate in ways that create connection versus separation.”

The number one intention to have when dealing with a disagreement of any kind is to understand rather then want to be right (Tweet this!).

We get absolutely NOWHERE when we just want the other person to believe what we believe.  No one changes their mind because we tell them over and over again that they are wrong.  People only change their beliefs when it is their OWN idea.

Before we can educate someone else on a new perspective, we must first understand where they are coming from.  Why do they believe what they believe? How do they see the situation? Where did they learn to think like they do?

Getting curious about another person (or group of people) is much more effective and loving than getting angry about what they believe.

It is only through understanding another that we can then begin to ask questions that catalyze new ideas.

Yes, it is important to release our feelings when we are angry about an outcome or the actions of others.  But there comes a point where it paralyzes us and moves us into the energy of againstness and we cannot create change from that place.

If we truly want to OPEN the minds of others, we do not do this by imposing our opinions on others. We must start with understanding.  Most people are afraid to let go of their beliefs so attacking them with ours, just reinforces how much they will protect what they stand for.

We must see things from their perspective even if we do not agree with it.  And from that place of curiosity, we can educate, inform and provide people with an opportunity to think differently.

Is there someone who you disagree with? Is there someone (or a group of people) who you are so angry at for what they believe and do?   If so, I encourage you to reflect on my message to you.  Really challenge yourself by asking if the anger and judgment is doing any good at all.  Open your mind to the possibility that anger and judgment toward others blocks your ability to tap into ideas that truly could create change.

Today’s message is not just about “light and love.” I am not encouraging you to move into passive acceptance.  I am encouraging you to be more proactive in seeking to understand others so that you know what kinds of actions to take.

And finally, I want to share it was really refreshing to be among a group of passionate, involved and open young women!  It reaffirmed my belief that women are continuing to step forward in our truth, power and love.


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  • ArtN

    Timely video of an important topic. This election has really polarized people, but I know it’s short-term. The same thing happened with Reagan. And much of what we see on tv with the protests is merely angry youth who don’t have a lot of experience in grappling with loss and alternative views.

    I was really thrown by the difference a few decades makes in going back to school and attempting to adjust to a new dynamic of interaction. I hate to say this, but differences in opinions and intellectual debate are not cherished like they were not so long ago.

    How to deal with people who disagree with you? Sometimes the best approach is to be quiet and accept that you cannot change the group think. Hopefully soon, rational discourse and debating ideas will make a comeback.

    Assess the risk/benefits. Pick your battles. Not everything is worth burning calories over.

    • Christine Hassler

      I love your comments and thank you so much for joining in the conversation! I hear what you’re saying. I also love that you said “not everything is worth burning calories over.” That needs to go on a t-shirt :)

    • GBMurphy

      Excellent post. I really feel like modern-day “liberals” in pretty much all Western countries have become extremely intolerant of opposing viewpoints. I especially agree with you when you say “much of what we see on tv with the protests is merely angry youth who don’t have a lot of experience in grappling with loss and alternative views”.