Ladylikeness 13: how to argue with the sharks without being eaten
"Ladies practice the art of respectful disagreement."
Your words are violence. So, I'm going to my safe space.
No two people on earth agree on everything. I'd say it's a statistical impossibility but, after researching this topic, it appears there's not a university alive that wants to touch it.
It's not that we can't agree on some things, or even many things, it's that we can't agree on all things.
So why are we so surprised when we disagree? Or offended, or traumatized, or annoyed when we encounter opinions not like our own? It's an unconfirmed, unscientific statistical impossibility to always think alike, remember?
We will disagree. Whether that's on the major dividers, like politics and religion. Or the other major dividers, like parenting and finance. Or on the minor, though important, dividers, like mayonnaise or Miracle Whip. Whatever the topic, we will continue to face disagreements throughout our life.
But is that such a bad thing?
Disagreeing is actually quite healthy. It's a major factor in pushing our mental and emotional growth. It's also what can create even deeper bonds and friendships. If you can be free to disagree with someone, and not lose their love and support, you've got yourself a true friend.
The bad aspect of disagreement really comes down to, not the presence of it, but the execution. People who disagree badly are those who raise their voices, demand agreement, batter and verbally abuse, or turn a disagreement into a personal attack.
Ladies practice healthy disagreement because they see the long-term, personal benefits of being able to face an opposing situation, such as, learning how to:
- show grace under pressure
- develop good listening skills
- calm heated situations
- confidently, but not defensively, defend their opinions
- be empathetic to other's feelings
- expand their thinking
- build their own confidence in handling out-of-control situations.
Instead of shrinking from disagreements, or adding to any vitriol, Ladies turn disagreeing into an art form. And then hang their masterpiece over the mantel.
How To Put This Truth Into Action
When in an argument, we won't be capable of reaping the benefits unless we're able to look past the heated words, flared passions, and our own pride to see beyond the moment.
With that simple mindset of looking ahead, we can find the calm and the mental clarity to respectfully disagree and reap the rewards.
That means listening, not always defending. Reasoning, not emoting. Being kind, but not being a doormat. And, perhaps above all else, accepting disagreement without fear or anxiety or anger.
Disagreeing well opens the door for us to feel more comfortable in our own skin and more confident in social interactions, while also allowing others to relax and be open in our presence, too.
This may sound silly, but knowing how to disagree with someone respectfully can be a gift we can give to others, as well as enjoy ourselves.
And, not to overlook this point, it releases us from the burden and false sense of responsibility that we're tasked with converting everyone to our way of thinking. Instead, we can be free to live our convictions, which will always have far more impact than arguing our convictions.
When done well, it's a real work of art.