Use this simple trick to avoid an argument

Disagreements often occur at a concrete level of communication. People get stuck on the details that highlight the differences in their thinking, and this can push them further apart and into their own corners.

When aiming for agreement you need to bring the conversation up to a conceptual level and out of the detail. The more abstract you can make your communication the easier the concept is to agree with.

For example, if we were choosing a new colour for our office chairs and you wanted blue and I wanted red, we could be heading for a disagreement. The key then would be to find a concept that we can both agree on. It might go like this:

“So, you want blue chairs and I want red. It seems to me though, that we actually want the same thing ultimately, and that is to get rid of these awful green chairs and find a new colour.”


“Great, so what other colours can we consider that we might both like?”

So next time you find yourself heading for a disagreement, move your thinking to a level above the current detail by asking ‘what’s this really about?’ and see if you can get agreement at a higher conceptual level. Then move back down into the new details of the conversation together. You’ll have a much higher chance of avoiding any argument and ultimately getting on the same page.

PS. This is often the reason why politicians and leaders make grand sweeping statements about strategic visions - ‘creating reform’ ‘making a difference’ – as these are sentiments we are more likely to agree with. It’s generally the specific policy or tactical plan of how to get there that we are less agreeable to.  

As a professional People Whisperer, Anneli has been working with leaders and teams to improve their communication and interpersonal intelligence for almost a decade.
If you’d like to improve your interpersonal effectiveness and influence, or decode the behaviours’ of others, contact Anneli today.

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