When you find yourself disagreeing with or offended by someone, you know, you want to thoroughly convince them of the wrongness of their position—and the rightness of yours—try something else—curiosity. Allow yourself to wonder, really wonder, how in the world they came to that perspective. Or wonder, with all the indignation you are likely to have anyway, what they could have possibly meant by that stupid, offensive, off point remark or action. Allow yourself to say something like:
- I’m curious. What do you mean by that?
- Tell me more.
- Help me understand your view.
- Really? How did you come to that conclusion?
- Walk me through your thinking.
If you allow yourself to engage in this way, a few things may happen:
- The fight you might have had or the end of the relationship can be avoided—you may have misunderstood or misinterpreted the other person.
- You’ll learn what they really meant, and why they think that way—both might be quite different than your assumption. Now you’re set up for a conversation about the underlying ideas and feelings that could be quite rich. Stay curious as you proceed.
- You’ll have the opportunity to share your perspective with someone who may be more open to hearing them. People don’t like to be attacked but they are usually willing to engage in an interesting conversation.
- You may strengthen the relationship and, therefore, the possibility for working together towards a larger purpose.
None of this suggests that you relinquish your view. By all means share it after you’ve understood the view of the other person.