Deepak Chopra Says You Can Disagree With out Having an Argument. Here is How
If there’s a bitter debate about everything from politics to whether or not companies should be opened or closed, is it possible to disagree with someone and get along anyway? Can you share a job, friendship, or family event without turning it into a screaming match?
The answer is definitely yes, says New Age guru and meditation teacher Deepak Chopra. In a recent New York Times story, he set out a few simple steps to keep the workspace and holiday dining table conflict-free. Here are the first recommendations.
1. Consider saying nothing.
Just because you disagree with someone doesn’t mean you have to talk about them. Chopra says the only good reason to discuss your disagreement is to use it as a starting point for negotiation. If you intend to “win” the argument, prove the other person wrong, or get that person into your point, your conversations will “turn into persistent, angry arguments,” he says. And some points of view are too ingrained to argue with. For example, someone who still refuses to wear a mask nine months after the pandemic will not be convinced of anything else you have to say.
When you’re feeling angry – and you could be – Chopra has some advice in keeping you silent or moving away from a possible argument. “Sit quietly with your eyes closed, take a deep breath, and focus your attention on your heart. Continue until the remaining anger is gone.”
2. Start listening.
It is customary to start a discussion by explaining your own position. But Chopra recommends taking the time to listen to what the other person has to say first. “If you don’t know what’s going on in your head, in your life, in your relationships, in your personal experience of everyday reality, where is the solution?” he asks. So take the time to just listen until you really understand who they are and what is important to them. Also, if you follow this step, your disagreement is less likely to turn into an argument.
3. Learn the other person’s values.
According to Chopra, one of the most effective ways to have a constructive conversation is to ask the other person what is most meaningful to them. Therefore, he sometimes encourages conflict leaders to talk to each other about their parents or childhood.
Your goal should be to find the other person’s core beliefs and share yours, which can go deeper than questions of religion or politics. “They fit the description of ‘speak your truth’,” he says.
4. Take a break before answering.
Once you’ve listened to what the other person has to say, you may feel very tempted to immerse yourself in your own beliefs and views. Instead, pause for a moment. A quick response will likely be his ego, says Chopra. What he calls “the ego response” is likely one of four things: “Nice and manipulative, evil and manipulative, persistent and manipulative, and playing the victim and manipulative,” he says.
Instead, use your pause to go beyond that first ego response and try to respond to the other person with “insight, intuition, inspiration, creativity, vision, higher purpose, or integrity of authenticity,” he says.
5. Resist black and white thinking.
“You are either with me or you are against me.” Chopra cites statements like these – often heard by world leaders – as examples of the kind of black and white thinking that can escalate any conflict. The truth is that most problems, especially if they are complex at all, cannot be defined by a simple point of view, with or against me, or between good and bad. Things are almost always more nuanced. Within these nuances, you may find ideas and principles that you can both agree on.
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