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How to talk to a person that you disagree with - No Label Business Magazine

How to talk to a person that you disagree with

No one lives in a perfect world. Everyone has his/her own flaws and opinions about certain things and topics. Very often, people face disagreements among colleagues, friends and family, and very often they end up finding themselves drowning in the lake of others’ “wrong” points of view. Persuading the person next to you and making him/her share your same thoughts doesn’t always happen, and can cause irritation and anger. Elizabeth Lesser, the cofounder and senior adviser of the largest adult education center in the United States, Omega Institute, offers another perspective of getting into arguments with the other side. Sometimes we simply don’t want to listen to confronting ideas, no matter whether they are true or wrong. In order to not be in a list of people who like stereotype others, Elizabeth, in her Ted Talk, suggested to solve such problem by simply taking the other side to lunch. Somewhere, that none of the sides can feel pressure of any kind to express themselves. The purpose of the lunch is to get to know the person from the opposite side that you might have negatively stereotyped. However, to avoid being in an unconfident situation, you need to come up with some rules or guidelines with your partner before lunch. Here are some of the rules, that according to Lesser people need to follow before heading to lunch.


Don’t persuade, defend, or interrupt.
Rule 2
Be curious, conversational, real and most importantly listen.

When you get to the main conversation topics consider applying these rules and discussing these with the other side before proceeding further.

  • Share some of your life experiences.
  • What issues do deeply concern you?
  • What have you always wanted to ask someone from the “other side?”

Believe it or not, this is going to feel strange to apply such rules in a conversation, but this is the only way to actually understand the other’s ideology of certain issue that you disagree with. At last, don’t try to change the other. Never pretend that past disagreements will just fade away after lunch. You’ll be amazed how much that person has to tell about him/her that can be eye opening for you and give the chance to compromise.

“Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.” ~John Kennedy


Source: TED Talks

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