Being good at disagreeing is a skill

Recently, I read a blog article by Seth Godin regarding disagreement and its benefits. For
those who don’t know him, Seth Godin is a best-selling author, speaker, entrepreneur and Marketing expert.

After reading this post, it became clear to me that communication is a truly wide and complex domain.
The ability to know what to say or how to say it is a gift that talented people cultivate and elevate to the level of an art form. And as Seth Godin says, “what happens when we disagree? Because when the world changes (and it always does) we’ll probably end up disagreeing sooner or later. Being good
at it is a skill.”

However, talent is not the only factor. Communication is a domain in which social and emotional skills are essential. A person who lacks self-confidence or self-esteem is unlikely to become a skilled communicator, able to openly share his opinions in many public circumstances – especially if these
ideas may contradict those of others.

When Communication Fails

And this is a tough point: being able to accept opposing viewpoints without feeling offended or attacked, discouraged or dismissed. Being able to constructively listen to other people’s ideas, acknowledge them and then share your own is a fantastic demonstration of grace and refinement.
I truly admire the people that have this elevated communication skills, especially because we are rarely taught in school or at home how to manage conflicting opinions or even disputes. After all, how many of us can hold our cool and stay elegant and sensible throughout a heated conversation?

When we can’t handle these heated conversations, I don’t think it’s because we don’t know how actually to talk or communicate, but because we didn’t learn how to deal with our emotions. For this
reason, I think a good communicator has both the knowledge and, more importantly, a high level of emotional intelligence that helps them navigate through muddy waters.

Diversity and Open-Mindedness

I think a good starting point of becoming skilled at accepting & expressing opposing ideas is being aware that we are different so it’s only natural – and desirable – to have different perspectives and backgrounds. After all, diversity brings progress and better outcomes and history provides the best
illustration of how variety may affect a society depending on how well its members manage it (or do not).

Then, we may consider how comfortable we are sharing our ideas, how easily we accept diverse points of view, what we dislike in conversations, or what leads us to get tense. We may learn great things about ourselves, such as why we prefer to be people-pleasers or, on the contrary, why we are constantly ready to oppose everyone else in a conversation.

In conclusion, as long as we are open to new perspectives, things look promising – after all,
“difference of opinion leads to inquiry, and inquiry to the truth” (Thomas Jefferson)

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