I think there’s a right and wrong way to disagree online. Disagreements can happen when someone writes a blog or social media post, comments, or what someone says during a live stream.
Nicely disagreeing is an approach that can be learned and practiced. Depending on what the other person says or does, it’s not always easy but it is always necessary. Here are four steps to help you disagree nicely and keep friends:
Focus on the issue and not the person
Personal attacks only result in increased emotions and hurt feelings. For example, it’s OK to disagree with what someone says during a live stream about the right to same-sex marriage. But, instead of calling that person stupid and an idiot because she doesn’t agree with you, try this. Focus on the underlying issue you’d like to discuss (Constitutional rights, religious beliefs, states rights). The issue is what you should direct your attention to and not the messenger.
Take control of the tone and volume of the conversation
When people start talking faster and louder, as is often the case during an escalating disagreement or argument, take the initiative and lower your voice and slow down your speech. By doing this, you are taking control of the one element of the discussion that has nothing to do with the underlying issue but everything to do with human nature.
When responding to a written comment or blog post, this means dialing things down and agreeing to disagree. During a live stream, it means using your words, tone, volume and body language to take things down a notch and defuse the situation.
Ask open-ended questions
Ask the other person “Why do you feel that way?” or “Does that seem fair to you and if so, can you please tell me why?” Then stop talking and start listening.
Asking this type of question gives the other person a chance to reflect on what he just said. Sometimes his response will give you a much better insight as to why he feels the way he does. Asking questions like this also gives you a bit more time to digest and formulate an appropriate response.
Appreciate the power of walking away
Understand that you don’t need to engage in every issue or win every single argument. Sometimes it’s just better to walk away. Online this may mean simply ignoring the written comment or statement and clicking to another page or site. During a live stream if may mean that you should simply smile and avoid responding.
Doing this may avoid an unnecessary disagreement altogether. When the disagreement has already happened, it may allow tempers to calm down and for each participant to approach any ongoing conversations in a more meaningful and even enjoyable fashion later in time.
There are many reasons why people allow differences of opinion escalate into heated arguments. Sometimes the reasons are obvious but other times there’s more to one or both participants’ backgrounds that contribute to disagreements that what meets the eye. Using one or more of these approaches, you can minimize the chances of disagreements becoming heated arguments and keep things civil, productive and even friendly.
Please share these tips if you think they’ll add value to not only your online experiences but also to the experiences of others. And if you have other tips to help our readers disagree nicely, please feel free to share in the comments below 🙂