Agree or Align? What works?

Relationships, especially those in family or work settings, are often challenged by disagreement. How do we move forward as a team, as a couple, when we disagree? How do we come to agreement? Do we have to? Too often, the process is filled with argument, giving in, giving up, running away, manipulation, frustration. Sound familiar?

If you are seeking agreement first, you may have it upside down. Often when we insist on agreement, we skip over truly understanding the others’ viewpoint. We also neglect to accept the other as a separate and unique individual with their own intentions, desires, ideas about the situation.

Consider a new way of thinking about and approaching the process. Try starting with alignment or acceptance.

  1. Accept or Align. Start by seeing the other and their viewpoint, their thought process for what it is – not what you want it to be. Accept what is – while openly seeking places where you and the other Align. Try using these tools to expand the possibilities and discover alignment:
    • What I like about your idea is … and … {enhance it with your own a.k.a. “Yes, and …”}
    • No, while I respect your viewpoint and see how it might be helpful at times, I’d like to propose …  {a.k.a. “No … and …”}
    • No, I see and think I understand your view … and … I disagree and have a whole different take on this one. {a.k.a. “Respectfully, no.”}
  2. Seek to understand. Having found alignment (perhaps you both want the work project to succeed or you both want to enjoy the vacation), seek to understand each other. Notice that we’re not talking about agreeing with the other’s ideas … just understanding.
  3. Agree or Disagree. Yup, you heard me. Now that you have found a place where you align (there is a reason you are in relationship) and you understand the other’s point of view, thought process, ideas, you may find a place where you agree and choose to move forward together – and you may not. You may disagree and decide to abandon the idea. You may disagree on the idea yet each of you is willing to move forward together with one of the plans anyway! You may disagree and one of you moves forward alone.

The next time you find yourself approaching an argument or disagreement or a desire to come to agreement, consider taking a step back from seeking to agree and try these steps. Come back here and let us all know how it worked out for you!

What is YOUR wisdom?