art work by John Ceprano
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Disagreeing with Another’s Opinion

This quote is an important one when it comes to strengthening our conflict competence. And I  think some of us lose sight of its meaning when we are in the midst of conflict. In typical fashion, when we and the other person have differing opinions about a matter, we each hold an opinion about what the optimum outcome is and how to reach it. We might remain civilized in our initial  exchange about what we each  want – to the extent that neither becomes overly aggressive with their perspectives. This may be the case  until we realize that the other person won’t back down from their opposition to our viewpoints. Then, as the conversation evolves and it looks as though things might not be resolvable, emotions start to take over and the chances of regaining some equilibrium decline.

We may begin to say things we later regret. We might begin to rail against how the other person is reacting and similarly, they call us out about our reactions. We might utter the useless “Just calm down!” and they react with the equally as useless – “You calm down!” Words exchanged might become louder and more emphatic and it becomes increasingly difficult to reconcile our differences. Our experiences of the interaction begin to overbear the actual disagreement and that too gets lost in the dynamic.

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog is about the experience of conflict and how we might disagree with the other person’s perspective. And though each of our viewpoints may be ones with which we cannot agree – or don’t want to agree- each of our experiences is something that, in reality, we have no real way of opposing. With this in mind, consider a dispute in which you and the other person have or had differing opinions as you respond to this week’s questions.

  • What is the situation about?
  • Which or what opinion(s) does the other person not accept?
  • If relevant, what reasons might account for the other person’s objection, besides that they have a differing opinion?
  • Which or what of this person’s opinion do you not accept?
  • If relevant, what reasons might account for rejecting their opinion besides you having a different viewpoint?
  • How would you describe your experience of this dispute, i.e. what is the impact, how are you feeling about what is happening (or did happen)?
  • What does the other person not realize or seem to understand about your experience with this dispute between you?
  • How might the other person describe their experience – from what you observed or heard from them?
  • What do you think you may not realize or understand about their experience of the dispute between you?
  • What difference do you think it may make if you both understood each other’s experience of the dispute between you?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?


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