People are willing to fight for what they believe truth to be. When you look further into the motivations of those around, you’ll realize that that their actions and words tend to come from a good place. People do what they do because they believe it to align with truth. They believe their actions and words to be agents of kindness and good intention. Disagreement can be harsh, even violent, if two well-meaning truths have been misaligned to battle against each other. Though both parties’ goals and intentions may very well be good, kind, and altruistic, the perceived threat to not having their truth make its mark, is enough to turn good people against each other.
This article is about aligning yourself with the basic goals of those who disagree with you. It aims to encourage you to inquire into why the person who argues with you is doing so. What are they fighting for? What philosophies drive their actions? What broad goals do they seek to reach with their chosen methods of actioning them?
Common Goals Are Effective Swayers of Opinion
Prior to establishing a case for why you may be right in a disagreement. Take a minute to have the person you disagree with voice their goals and motivations. For instance, a colleague may hold value in saving everybody some time on a team task. They may argue for a methodology which would save time but increase the chance of error. By agreeing with their motivation to protect the group’s time first, your argument against increasing a chance of error can be more poignant. You can mention that an error would cost a lot more time than if you were to take longer by enacting proper measures to decrease error rates in the team’s work. Agreeing with saving time to be a mutual goal, the people who disagree with you will soften up and be primed to listen to how you may be thinking about the same goal from a different perspective. Rather than them perceiving you to be in contention with their goal, you’ll be seen as simply proposing different methods in achieving the same goal.
When up against someone who’s set on having their way, inquire into what their actions are driven by. What are their motivations in propagating their truth so emphatically? What are the general goals they seek to move toward? The further you inquire into someone’s broader motivations for enacting their specific truth in a certain way, the easier it’ll be to align yourself as being on their team. For instance, it’s safe to say that most people would consider themselves to be “good.” Even if you disagree on every other goal other than the desire for both of you to be good people, aligning yourself with that goal will set the bar for agreement down the line. With that being said, strive to agree on a notion which is both, specific to the situation at hand and also one which both parties can subscribe to.
Blur the lines of what constitutes an adversary in the mind of those who argue against you. Ideas are easier to agree with when we perceive the people who present them to be like us and on our team. Be sensitive to how your arguments align with the greater good by ensuring you’re in tune with what they value. Once you amalgamate your own values with theirs by finding mutual agreements, the task then becomes to present why the arguments you make pave a way toward achieving those mutual goals.
Once an Agreed Upon Goal Is Established, Link Arguments Back to That Mutual Goal
Agreeing on a broad, mutual goal will be the first step in the process of changing someone’s mind. Once you both agree to be driven by the same motivating forces, present reasons for why what you present links back to the goal which you’ve both agreed on. The game will now be one of determining whose arguments prove to align best with the broader goals which were agreed on earlier.
Ensure that the broader goal remains the driver of the conversation in which you aim to control. That prior agreement will be the truth that both of you would have to strictly adhere to. Remain on topic, and refrain from making disagreements personal. If you fail to align your arguments with the broader goal at hand, you’ll fail to change the minds of those who present their own ways of attaining that same agreed upon goal. Thereby remain focused on the task at hand with minimal deviations and distractions.
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