In every area of life, we’re doing more talking than ever before. Communications expert Tim Muehlhoff says 200 million tweets are posted on Twitter every day. The result is a world that takes words for granted and stops giving proper consideration to speech in general.
With so much talk, tensions run high, and offenses are many. How do we communicate with people who disagree with us? Whether the issues are large or small, we want to be able to disagree without being disagreeable. Tim joins us to provide a strategy for having difficult conversations, helping us move from contentious debate to constructive dialogue.
Tim offers several insights from his new book, I Beg to Differ. He unpacks the principle of speaking with grace and truth and describes a few ways to approach those conversations:
First, ask what this other person believes. Tim points out that we too often label others or categorize them based on assumptions.
Second, put yourself in the shoes of the other person. What is causing them to think this way? Is it how they were raised, a past experience, or something else? Empathy will open up your heart to be able to truly hear what they’re saying.
Third, affirm where you can. “Start with agreement and move towards disagreement.” Tim points out that starting with disagreement sets up the conversation to end in anger, silence, or resentment.
Finally, ask yourself, what is one thing I should say to this person, having heard and reflected on everything they said?
Tim points out the importance of being charitable to others. Rather than painting someone as “angry or irrational,” give them grace as God gives to us. When we bless those who disagree with us, they might feel a sense of “indebtedness” to hear our point of view.
Above all, we need to balance truth and love. In Tim’s words, “If you mess up the ‘love’ part, it doesn’t matter what you say content-wise.”