Why Ignoring Disagreements Limits Your Relationships

image credit: paulajsm

image credit: paulajsm

Disagreements are the stuff of relationships.

Wherever there are two or more people, there is bound to be disagreement. But that’s not a bad thing. Disagreeing with someone means you have a different perspective. Your life has given you different experiences or opportunities, and with those differences of experience comes a difference of interpreting the things of your life and your thoughts, feelings, and actions regarding those things. That kind of variety may be overwhelming, but I wrote a book of stories to show there is unique beauty and power in that kind of variation.

Disagreements are nothing to be afraid of; they just are.

Judgment From A Distance

We do it all the time with people from different political parties, religions, nationalities, or social groups. It’s easy to hold an idea about certain kinds of people or pass judgment on a choice someone makes. From a distance, it’s easy to disagree with them because we’re protected from having to face the reality of all the experiences and ideas they’ve come to know.

But when we get up close to someone, hear a bit of his or her story, we begin to see a little of the perspective that was once so easy for us to pass judgment upon.

We firmly resist talking points from the other side, but something changes when we can put a face and a name and a story to the other side.

A conversation can be a powerful thing.

Staunch talking points can’t compare with a personal story or a conversation.

Beyond Talking Points

So in our lives today, perhaps in the hour or two after you read this, you’ll find yourself disagreeing with someone on principle, because of a social group they associate with, or some ideals they hold. And you have that chance to assume something about that person and go on with your day, firmly disagreeing because disagreeing is what you know.

Or you can step closer instead of stepping back, and ask a couple questions that allow you to see beyond the talking points and into his or her story. And perhaps you will learn that your disagreement is not so completely founded because there are, actually, some things with which you find yourself in agreement.

Our relationships can get better by digging into disagreements, not ignoring them. (tweet that)

We can better connect with others when we don’t let disagreements define the relationship.

Don’t avoid people you disagree with; welcome them. Pursue them and get to know their story and their perspective. Maybe we’ll learn a game-changing piece of information or catch a glimpse of their heart.

Difference needs not drive us apart. Differences can make us stronger together.


What’s one way you’ve handled a disagreement that resulted in making the relationship better?


Find more in John’s new book, The Variable Life: Finding Clarity and Confidence in a World of Choices. Start reading for free at thevariablelife.com.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.