EGO, while it’s an important element to a healthy self-esteem can also be detrimental in relationships. We spend so much time in building relationships and one little slip of the ego can tear it all down in an instant. IMHO, there is never an appropriate time for arguing. It alienates people, it makes some feel inferior and it can undermine our own credibility.

What am I talking about? I’m talking about the need to be right, the desire to prove our superiority. We can become defensive when we intuitively know we may be wrong and yet we do it anyway. Having different opinions is what makes the world go round, what makes life interesting. To paraphrase a quote by someone (not sure who said it) “if both of us agree on everything all the time, then one of us is unnecessary.”

So how can we learn to disagree in a healthy way that builds good-will? Avoid arguing altogether! Having a strong opinion about something you put a high value on is absolutely fine – if you want to win someone to your way of thinking look for ways to create a win-win experience, one that leaves our egos intact, and create allies instead of enemies.

Here are just a few tips to do just that:

Put the gloves down ~ Don’t get defensive. it is important to control our emotion and our tempers (not an easy thing for me to learn, I have a natural tendency to react and explode). When you become defensive it gives the other person the fuel to start an argument with you… and keep it going.

Listen ~There really is a reason we have two ears. It is hard to argue when only one person is talking. Often, the other person just needs to be heard.

Resist the urge to “correct” ~ Telling the other person she is wrong adds fuel to the fire, and makes her defensive.

Keep an open mind ~ really successful leaders welcome opposing viewpoints, it may not change your mind, but it will let the other person know you respect her right to disagree.

Build rapport ~ it is really hard to argue with someone when you agree with them. Find areas in which you both agree and let her know when you agree with certain points.

Admit when you are wrong ~ perhaps the most difficult thing we can learn is to admit when we are wrong. Letting the other person know she is right builds her esteem and increases your own credibility.

Share your beliefs ~ respecting one’s beliefs is the very foundation of FREEDOM – instead of saying “I know” try “I believe” in expressing your viewpoint.

Show gratitude ~ even when you disagree, it is important to thank the other person for sharing her opinion. It is difficult to quarrel with someone who just thanked her for expressing her viewpoint.

The best way to avoid an argument is to turn it into a discussion in which both sides share their views. Practice self-control, move egos aside and watch your relationships thrive. After all, is it really that important for everyone to have the same viewpoint as you?

Note – this article first appeared on Success and Then Some. Here are some of the comments from that post:

Eileen W said:

These are truly wonderful suggestions for dealing with others both in business and in your private life. Everyone wants to feel appreciated and respected, and such tools are great ways to create real win/win relationships.

Kathy O said:

Avoiding conflict can be a daunting task when people are passionate about their position(s). Yet, unless we learn to get our point across without making enemies, our view point, no matter how valid, will be ineffective. I have seen relationships destroyed over this very thing. Thanks for reminding us that, in addition to what we say, it’s important how we say it.

Beverly M said:

I can’t tell you the number of times one of my dearest friends and business confidantes and I have disagreed on something—to the point of not speaking for a couple of days. But because of our mutual respect and genuine sisterly love for each other, we get over it and move on.

We have shared many a glass of wine while laughing at some of the stuff we’ve been at odds about.

The point is we still recognize how valuable we are to each other even in the disagreement.

Diva said:

I’ve gotten to a place where I pick my battles, so to speak. I have always believed no one is perfect – myself especially – and allowing others their “quirks” is part of friendship.

If it’s something that really starts to bother me I assess the situation before I go head to head with anyone. I often find myself mentally “biting my tongue”. I’m way better at it now than I was when I was younger, lol!

BTW, These are great suggestions for reacting to comments on your blogs too!!!