Posted on July 11, 2014

People by and large find disagreement to be disagreeable. Annoying. Upsetting. And in the case of someone who is narcissistic, it is likely to engender belligerence. Why?

Because disagreements interfere with our sense or desire for control. When someone disagrees with us, we often respond somewhat abruptly in one or more of the following ways: You are wrong or stupid….and/or I will not cooperate because I do not agree with your decision.

The message conveyed directly or indirectly, verbally or in body language, says: what you want to be done will not happen. It is no surprise then that we object to disagreements.

But, are there any benefits from listening to a disagreement?

Imagine a court system where there are only a prosecutor and no defending attorney, and you are to be judged. You would not feel that justice is being served. After all, every argument has a counter-argument that needs to be heard.

For better, more educated decisions, all sides that have something to say should have a say.  Which means they should have the right to disagree and the right and opportunity to say it.

But how, when it is so upsetting?

Here is what I found might work if you have self-discipline. When someone disagrees with you, do not consider yourself the defending attorney. Act as if the defending attorney is missing and you have to confront the disagreeing person as if he or she is the prosecutor.

Consider yourself the judge who WANTS to hear ALL arguments in favor and against the subject under discussion so that you can make a reasonable and educated judgment.

So, instead of becoming defensive when someone disagrees with you, it might be wise to ask yourself not WHY, but WHAT are the reasons FOR their disagreement.  What is it he or she is trying to teach you? What is it you missed seeing or considering? You need to know that information so you can make a fair judgment.

You can and should discard any argument you find to be unsubstantiated.  You are the judge, remember. Not the defendant. So you do not have to defend your side of the story, nor should you. You are “above” the argument. If a man or woman who disagrees with you makes better sense, then you—as a judge—render the best and fairest decision possible.  And if you as the defendant (not as a judge) lose the argument, so be it.  You accede with grace…and one hopes, with good humor.

The purpose of the discourse is not to determine who wins the argument, but what the best decision is that applies to the subject at hand.

It is a process in which you—we—wear two hats. One signifies that we are the defendant; the other that we are the judge. Two very different roles…and two different hats.

But if we are aware of the two hats, it can be done. When we present our argument, we are the defendant. When our antagonist speaks, denouncing us, we quickly assume the role of the judge. We switch hats immediately.

Does this make sense to you?

It does to me.

Just thinking.

Sincerely,

Dr. Ichak Kalderon Adizes