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  • Writer's pictureNick McDonald

How to Respond When You Disagree.

I can tell you from first hand experience, it's fun to disagree. I really like the sense of superiority, the rush of outrage, the high of pinpointing an inconsistency. Social media encourages toward this kind of approach.

But there's one thing we typically can't do on social media, which is the only right response to a disagreement in person: asking what the other person, "What do you mean?"

When we ask this question, we do several things.

First, we save ourselves from saying things we don't mean. If your Generation Z friend starts talking about "my truth", and you rant about how "truth isn't relative", you'll say something you don't mean. By "My truth", this generation just means "my experience that you don't have access to". Do you really want to argue that their experiences aren't valid?

Second, we save ourselves a lot of time. When we don't define our terms, we can spend hours talking past each-other. Take the phrases "Pro-life" and "Pro-choice". These phrases only apply to very specific situations. Pro-life advocates aren't always pro-life. Pro-choice advocates aren't always pro-choice. To stop and ask, "What do you mean?" can pinpoint the places of disagreement, as well as show some common ground.

Third, we help whoever we're arguing with feel understood. This needs to happen before they can hear us. I've recently been reading some helpful resources on parenting, and one of the consistent points is that kids needs to feel heard before their brains are ready for a new perspective. It's true for kids, but it's true for adults, too. Are you ready to hear someone else's disagreement with your point before you feel they've fully understood it?

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