Wednesday, 29 July 2009

How To Disagree Effectively

You may ask yourself why anyone would want to speak on, “How to Disagree Effectively”, which is little more than talking about arguing. However, like it or not, we know that people get caught up in arguments and disagreements of one sort or another every day.

There is one school of thought sanctioned by millions which is that we should do all that is possible to avoid disagreements. Many people are of the belief that arguing is wrong and more importantly, are convinced that disagreements can lead to violence.

However, there is another side of that thought, which is that stress or differences not confronted can lead to frustration, seething anger and sometimes violence.

In other words, opposing ideas, philosophies, desires, needs, priorities, etc. are an inevitability of life. The responsibility lies with each of us to determine where we stand in relation to what we do or do not want. From there, it is the responsibility of each of us to learn how to transfer that information to another without demanding they think and act or believe in the same things. Because it is inevitable that our differences will become obvious at some time or other, and very likely challenged, each person is chargeable with learning how to confront others.

After all, we become known by identifying ourselves. If we refuse to speak up, allowing others to decide, when it is in contrast with our beliefs, we are victimized by virtue of handing authority to those others who state their disagreements.

By refusing to confront what we determine is wrong, unjust, or a simple non-fit, we are subtly cooperating with our opposition. Furthermore, others are then positioned to guess who we are and where our boundaries lie. (They will seldom guess accurately). Some won’t even try once they know you will not speak up when you disagree.

If you follow the logic of this argument, it would appear then, that disagreement is necessary. Because it is, it also is in the best interest of each of us to decide to address situations where differences of opinion are contrary to ours; and to develop the ability to do so with competence.

What is indicated here, is that the ability to confront is vital to our existence and quality of life and therefore, needs to be developed in each of us. It is an important trait to pursue and develop, whether we do or do not enjoy the practice, because it is an inevitability of life, best handled with knowledge and a practiced degree of competence.

We all argue. For some of us, it is more than once or twice a day. When you consider interaction with all the people in your life, there are...personal relationships with a ‘significant other’, parents, siblings, friends, co-workers and casual acquaintances. There are also circumstances that put us face to face in disagreement with some people we don’t even know on a personal level.
Irrespective of with who you are in disagreement, it can prove overwhelming if you find yourself in a confrontation with anyone and it gets out of hand. Loud voices, stamping of feet, pounding of fists on a table, swearing, threatening, crying or pleading are all part of disagreements and are evidence that someone is insisting on being heard.
But what exactly are you supposed to do when you find yourself in a predicament where there doesn’t seem to be much chance that both sides will find a place to agree? In fact, what if you are convinced that no one is actually looking for agreement and the focus seems to be on whom is going to win?
Worse yet, what happens when the situation seems to be getting worse and you don’t believe your thoughts are even being interpreted correctly? It is quite common to hear someone say, “but you just said……..”, and they repeat your words, but have an entirely different interpretation from what you are actually attempting to say. That can be somewhat frightening, not to mention frustrating.
If you have been on either end of such situations you likely remember how maddening it is to talk louder and louder and still not be heard. You probably remember how discouraging it is to be walking away angry, disappointed or worse yet reacting to your frustration making the situation worse – especially when this is a pattern of behavior and you know the inevitability of it’s recurrence.
It only seems reasonable that some form of rules or procedure be put in place as guidelines to disagreement. The goal is to allow both sides to speak, to be heard and to decide what they wish to do in relation to the situation. Of course, this is a little more difficult in practice than in principle.
Motivational speaker and author, Nancy McFadden M.A., developed a program on “How to Disagree Effectively”. In it, she suggests a structure for how to stay powerful during a disagreement and how to know when to call “time-out” if it becomes apparent that no one is listening and no progress is being achieved.
The rational and most effective procedure is for both sides to know the guidelines and to stick to them with a view to creating an outcome that both can live with. This may not always be possible. However, if both persons in disagreement agree to stay with the principles of effective disagreement, McFadden claims the chances of creating a favorable outcome increase. At the least, it offers respectful discourse without the disagreement escalating into a tantrum or worse yet a reactive situation where one or both persons lose control.
“First of all”, she recommends that before you enter into disagreement, “know your goal”. “If you don’t know what the issue is, there is small chance you can address it sensibly”.
“The biggest reason arguments escalate”, McFadden says, “is because the subject gets changed and most times no one even notices”. “You start out talking about wanting to be called when the person knows they are going to be late and end up talking about who is most insensitive, rude, demanding, or immature”, she ...alleges. “That is such an overriding habit”, she claims, “that most people complain of having the same old arguments repeatedly, without ever catching on to the fact that they fall into that pattern without realizing the role they play”.
That makes it imperative that you know why you are disagreeing so that you are not seduced into discussing something else.
Regardless of how enticing it is to respond to the person’s personal comments, McFadden claims it is in the best interest of both parties to identify the real issue immediately and agree to discuss nothing but that particular subject at the time.
She recommends the when disagreement is evident, “Agree to focus on one thing at a time – and stick to the agreement. If not, you will find yourself going round and around the same argument repeatedly never resolving the real issue”.
If the other person goes off topic, McFadden claims it is your responsibility to take them back to the real issue by merely repeating what it is and reminding that person that you are willing to stay with only that one issue, at present.
“If necessary”, she says, “repeat, repeat, repeat until the person recognizes that you are not open to any other issue - at this time”.
She claims that following this pattern in an effort to learn the techniques of effective disagreement can be frustrating during the learning process, but she promises it will save a lot of misery over time, eliminating a lot of the repetitious arguments that are a part of the life of most people.
Interestingly, she also suggests you “give yourself permission to agree to disagree”
She claims that frustration peaks when people become invested in trying to convert the other person to their way of thinking or doing something. “Be willing”, she says, “to let each person have their own opinion”.
“Your job”, she says, is to get clear and remain clear about your position. Once you determine that you are each committed to your own opinion and it is different, the wisest thing to do”, she claims, “is to then decide what you are going to do now that you know where you stand”. Let go of any notion to convert the other or to resist being converted to their way of thinking. Respect your right to your own opinion and transfer that respect to others.
“You cannot make people change. All that you can do is decide what you will do in view of the present situation”. Wasting time arguing why you or the other person should change will only increase the frustration and keep you from the real issue”.
“Don’t go there”, she advises.
“The issue’, she says, “is not about being right”. The real issue is to be heard and hopefully, understood”. If you realize that that is not going to happen, step back, and suggest you leave the discussion to another time. It is fruitless to insist on being acknowledged when you know the other person is not open to the discussion. It is also fool-hardy to insist on getting your own way once it becomes evident the other is not willing. Tempers increase and rational talk decreases.
As soon as you are aware that the frustration or anger is escalating call a “time-out”, she advises. Refuse to continue whenever you identify that either you or the other person is losing control of rational discussion or the view to finding a... solution. Taking a ‘time-out’ is the only sensible thing to do and leaves the door open to further discussion at a better time.
“When you are the one who initiates a ‘time-out’, you are the one responsible for setting a time-frame in which you believe it would be appropriate or safe to resume discussion. It lies with you to initiate a resumption of the discussion when the time-out period has expired”.
“When you do so, you demonstrate your competence, integrity and personal power”, she says. This type of behavior clearly demonstrates your willingness to be mature and own your part of the difficulty in the situation. If you avoid, you identify your fear and set the stage to be trivialized in the current situation and whenever else you speak sincerely. Don’t do that to yourself”, she cautions.
What is of peripheral interest is her suggestion that disagreement is not about being right or wrong. “The real issue”, she says is to be able to identify who you are, what you believe or want, or don’t want, and what you intend to do in this particular situation”.
“Because of that you want to listen and to be heard, because you are sharing important information”. Disagreement is not about deciding who is the better person, on any level, it is merely identifying who you are and finding out who the other person is, or what they do, or do not want”.
“If you are clear about that”, McFadden claims, “you can avoid the emotional chaos that is associated with most disagreements”.
Although she has other comments in relation to disagreements, and strategies for effective disagreement McFadden asserts that these three steps mentioned above, “Stay on Topic”, “Repeat the topic every time someone strays” and “Agree to Disagree”, will dramatically affect your competence in both personal and professional encounters. Learning to accept and cooperate with the wisdom that disagreement is merely a communication skill and not cause for converting others, or being converted, will bring you to a whole new place. Being able to state your thoughts clearly without becoming emotionally enmeshed in the other persons response to who you are is a vital maturation that every effective communicator must develop.
Another point of interest in McFadden’s program is her claim that ‘compromise’ is not always in a person’s best interest and must be viewed with a more jaundiced eye.
She alleges that compromise is often a solution that a person resorts to when they lack the ability or inclination to respect their own judgement or individuality. Too, she claims, it is often the place a person will go to in order to avoid further confrontation. “Often”, she claims, “people will seek compromise without taking the time to assess whether the compromise is in their best interest or merely a way to avert an argument”. However, the threat is that you may be inclined to compromise your integrity, morality or other things that prove to be in your best interest. “It is far more practical to practice acknowledging and accepting that differences are not always a bad thing. You just might be identifying that you are different from the other person, she says, and that’s all right.” If, in fact one...ascertains that they have the right to be different - what McFadden calls “an individual”, they are better prepared to look objectively at another’s point of view as well, without falling victim to changing their mind in order to be accepted or possibly liked by others.
“If, in fact, you can find a comfort level in accepting that not everyone will always like you, you can get on about the business of being yourself without deciding there is something wrong with you just because someone carries an opinion contrary to your own”.
“It is inevitable”, she says, “that you will eventually meet someone with no taste or bad taste”. “Let that be their problem”, she advises. “If you don’t, you will have to turn into a chameleon to satisfy all the different tastes and interests that others have, not to mention - standards”.
“Give yourself permission to be who you are and get on with developing your own perfection”, she encourages. “Use your own inner voice to determine an acceptable standard for yourself. You know the difference between right and wrong. Assess your own behavior and decide what best suits your goals, talents and ambitions for Self. Leave others to determine what they want to do about who you are. You also need to do the same with others. If they are not on your side, allow yourself the privilege of moving on and choosing a new job, friends, life-style, etc. Your decisions are always what you are left to live. The consequences or rewards will come back on you, so you don’t want anyone else to decide for you”.
Overall, these ideas and strategies regarding disagreement are, at the least, worthy of some serious thought and consideration. They promise an expanded self-awareness and an opportunity to re-think old problems in a new light. After all, who of us could not benefit from brainstorming potential solutions to long-standing problems?

(compiled by Rev. Bola)

Spiritual Coaching Ministries


Sunday, 5 July 2009

Unconditional Love from God

I would like to be able to experience infinite unconditional love, wouldn't you and wouldn't we all?
That just about sums up the bases to any and all our problems, desires, disappointments, goals and aspirations.

There have definitely been times in my personal life when I have felt like a train wreck about to happen, utterly inadequate to cope with the complexity of my own life, never mind anybody else's. So I understand if you have had or are having similar feelings. Beware of the man who believes he is perfect with no room for improvement. Not that such a state is impossible, but in are present existence, highly unlikely. Even the enlightened beings and sages of our time, have claimed to have common human foibles, and have been prone to angry tirades and tears.

The great news is that God is completely and utterly in love with you, and also with me. No matter how many mistakes you or I make. No matter where you are in your life, no matter what you think of you, God loves you for all eternity.

Let's keep reminding ourselves, and each other of that fact, every day.

Rev Bola

PS. If you want to know how you can experience God's Love for you more directly in your current life, feel free to contact me for further information about this at:

And, you may also visit my website for more detailed information by clicking here:-

Rev.Bola's -*Loving People Ministries*