Recently, I was working on a project with an associate and ultimately, we disagreed about how we thought it was supposed to go. He wanted to do one thing and I wanted to do something else.
Though we talked about it and talked about it, he couldn’t sway me his way and I couldn’t sway him mine. We were essentially at an impasse. A short while later, I got a text from him that said “I really can’t live with the way you want it.”
We have an agreement in the men’s group that I’m in and it goes like this. If I can’t live with the way someone wants to handle a situation but the other person would be okay doing it my way, we do it my way. On the other hand, if I can live with the way the other person wants it, but they can’t live with it my way, we do things the way they want.
I’ve found this to be a positive way to navigate through all sorts of disagreements. Whether a colleague and I don’t see eye to eye or it’s a disagreement that I’m having with a family member, if one of us absolutely cannot live with the way the other person wants it, then that’s the deciding factor. That’s how the decision is finally made.
It’s not a matter of someone winning and the other person losing, but more about agreeing to set aside your wants when the issue is more important to the other person. It involves being adult enough to say, “I respect you enough to not want you to be miserable if we were to do things my way.”
When you can do this, there is no way you can lose. Even though you may not have gotten what you initially wanted, you will likely get so much more. You’ll get the other person’s respect in return. If it’s someone close to you, you’ll also probably get a deeper level of love.
Disagreements don’t have to end with hard feelings, bitterness, or one person feeling as if they’ve been short-changed. Sometimes they can actually strengthen your connection and deepen your bond, all because you were willing to settle the issue from a position of respect.
I use this as a ruler in a lot of disagreements in my life. If I want something to go one way and the other person wants it to go another, one of the first things I ask is whether either one of us has presented an option that the other person simply cannot stomach. If the answer is yes, that instantly tells me which way it needs to go.
Try this in your own life. Whether you’re at work or at home, if you feel like you and another person are on completely different pages and neither wants to budge, ask yourself whether either option is one that one of you cannot live with. If it is, then the answer is right in front of you.
And if it means that things aren’t going to go your way, just remember that you didn’t lose. You simply respected the other person enough to do what worked for them. That ultimately builds lots of trust. Trust me on that one.