You Disagree? How Interesting!

 In Communication, Relationships

We all have different life experiences, different personalities, different perspectives that lead us to different ideas than other people in our lives.  Deep down we know it’s a good thing, but when we disagree we can feel frustrated that people can’t see things our way.  We may say things or use a tone of voice  that only makes things worse because we are wired to react instead of respond.

What makes this even more challenging is that we instinctively believe we are right. As you probably know, this causes no end of problems in our relationships at work and at home.  How can we put aside our need to be right and instead of getting defensive, say “How interesting? Tell me more.” Or to think, How interesting that I am reacting and feeling this way.  How interesting that they have different ideas.  Let me be curious and ask questions to help me understand their point of view.” When we can choose this open-minded approach, it not only makes it easier and more fun to communicate and collaborate, we can actually end up discovering more opportunities and better ways of doing things.

I know first-hand how hard this can be – especially in the heat of the moment when my emotions are triggered and I want to react instead of actually think about how to respond.  Just today I was talking with my husband about a little woodworking project I wanted him to do.  He didn’t like my approach and was telling me how he thought it should be done.  I noticed myself getting defensive and irritated.  I knew my approach was better.  How come he couldn’t see it my way?  I struggled but managed to tune in and notice how I was reacting – Hmmm, How interesting that I am feeling triggered by his difference in opinion.  How interesting that he has a different idea of how to do this project.  It definitely helped me avoid getting more upset and allowed me to stay calmer and act reasonably.

Can you think of any recent interactions that would have had a better outcome by thinking, “How interesting?”  Is there an upcoming situation that you know is going to be challenging where this approach might help? Do you have another approach or phrase you use that helps you stay calm?  Please feel free to share below.


Tina Hallis, Ph.D., is a professional speaker and consultant for The Positive Edge, a company dedicated to helping people and organizations fulfill their true potential using strategies from the science of Positive Psychology.

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