In honor of the St. Augustine collection launch this week we will be sharing some guest posts on fruitful discussion, social justice, and living in hope. Today:
Five Tips for Disagreeing without being Disagreeable
One of the best quotes I have heard about having conversations on difficult topics is that it is always possible to disagree without being disagreeable. We are able to have conversations about different, difficult topics without becoming upset or offended if we focus on not being disagreeable with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Don’t be afraid to have hard conversations if you remain rooted in your faith and kindness!
1.) Don’t Type It, Say It
So many of our interactions take place through a screen. We send texts, share posts, and write comments. But when we disagree with something we’ve seen online, we need to check ourselves before flying into a typing fury. No one’s mind was changed over a wrathful Facebook comment. Proverbs 15:18 reminds us that acting “ill-tempered” will stir up more trouble and that the patient will settle disputes. Patiently wait until you can have this conversation face-to-face with your loved one rather immediately reacting online.
2.) Come from a Place of Knowledge
In 2 Timothy, chapter 2, we are told to avoid “foolish and ignorant debates” and I believe that this advice is two-fold. Firstly, we need to educate ourselves. If you feel passionate about a current issue, stay on top of the information surrounding it. Read articles from both sides of the story if possible. Check your sources and facts. Don’t trust headlines; read the whole article (remember the previously mentioned Proverb, be patient). Secondly, don’t engage in debates with those who are unwilling to learn. The purpose of a debate is education; if neither of you are willing to listen and learn from the other, your conversation is bound to be unfruitful!
3.) Speak With Kindness
Timothy continues his advice saying, “A slave of the Lord should not quarrel, but should be gentle with everyone, able to teach, tolerant, correcting opponents with kindness.” If you are going to disagree with someone, do it kindly. Don’t tell them they’re wrong, explain your side. Use gentle words and a gentle tone that encourages others to listen to you. Remember Proverbs 16: 24, “Sweet words are like honeycomb, sweet to the taste and invigorating to the bones.” When we speak with kindness, our conversations are more likely to spur action and invigorate those who are listening!
4.) Listen and Learn
Often, there are two sides to an argument because both sides have very good reasons for what they believe. The reality is, on the hard issues, we may not be one hundred percent right. In order to have fruitful conversations with our brothers and sisters in Christ, we have to be willing to listen and learn from those we are speaking with. The ignorant spread discord by refusing to learn but “wisdom is with those who take counsel.” (Proverbs 13:10). Don’t willfully remain ignorant; listen and learn.
5.) There is a Right and a Wrong
I previously mentioned that we should learn from differing opinions but I also want to encourage you that on some issues, there is a clear right and wrong. When it comes to some, there is a middle ground but there are others that have a clear right and wrong. As Catholics, we are called to defend the dignity of human life, all life. Not just the issue of abortion, but children who are at risk, teens who are in danger, and adults who are being mistreated. Educate yourself, speak kindly, listen, but also remain firm when you are confident in where God calls you to stand. Speak life. Speak truth. Remain firm in your faith.
Finally, before any difficult conversation take time in prayer. Ask God to help you speak with gentleness and wisdom. If possible, ask your conversation partners to pray with you and keep your conversation rooted in Christ. Everything we do can be traced to God! When we start with the reminder that God is always with us, it is easier to hold the Lord’s advice closely as you enter difficult conversations.
LeAnn is a writer, educator, mother, and wife. She reads too much YA fiction and drinks too much coffee. She loves her Catholic faith and connecting it to her daily life intentionally and purposefully. You can read more of her work on her own blog: catholiccompass.weebly.com
You can also find her @leannasaurus28 on Twitter and Instagram.
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