The Hidden Power of Disagreement

If you’ve been following our week of gratitude, you learned some key skills on Monday and practiced writing a Thx Note on Tuesday.  


Now let’s take it to the next level. Think about someone you had a disagreement with. That disagreement may have felt frustrating or upsetting. Maybe you felt hurt or misunderstood. If it didn’t feel very good, you may wonder, why thank the other person?


Well, underneath each conflict, is a nugget of wisdom. Conflict’s silver-lining is that it provides us an opportunity to practice our skills, to learn something about ourselves or the other person, and maybe, if we’re willing, to deepen our connection.


So let’s think back on that disagreement. Did you get annoyed when the other person talked? If so, maybe it's an opportunity to practice your patience. Did you get agitated or raise your voice? If so, maybe it’s an opportunity to practice compassion. 


What about the other person’s reaction? Were they harsh with you? Did they lose their calm? If so—and this one is the hardest one—try to have empathy for them.


Maybe they were having a hard day. Maybe they felt hurt, or insecure, or misunderstood. You don’t have to agree with the other person, but you can have empathy for the feeling underneath their behavior.


Alright, now that you’ve reflected on the experience, pick up that pencil again because you’re going to write a Thx Note. Now this is really important: a Thx Note doesn’t work if it’s done out of obligation, spite, or sarcasm. If you don’t think you can genuinely thank this person about what you’ve learned from the disagreement, maybe take some more time to reflect. Or pick someone else. But, if you think you can share something that feels authentic, go back to what you learned on Tuesday on how to write a Thx Note and expand upon it.


It may feel weird to thank someone for a disagreement. And it’s okay to share that the disagreement didn’t feel good in the moment. But, upon reflection, you learned something about yourself. You can always thank them for that.   

P.S. Wondering how this plays out in a classroom? Listen to this podcast to hear about how it went.