Dealing with disagreements
BUSINESS MATTERS BEYOND THE BOTTOM LINE - Francis J. Kong (The Philippine Star) - September 23, 2018 - 12:00am

It is easy to become disconnected in our relationships. 

But how do we stay connected? How do we make relationships flourish?

Have you had disagreements? I am sure you have. There will always be disagreements. The only people who are in full agreement are dead people, for they do not have the life or energy to disagree. The question, therefore, is not on how to avoid disagreements but how to handle them agreeably. Keeping it as an issue is almost always deteriorates into a personal issue. 

I spoke in the United Nations Asia Headquarters in Bangkok where more than 1,000 university students representing 87 countries assembled for a few days of Leadership talk and community service. Speaking to people of different cultures and diverse nationalities require sensitivity and tact. Communications should be in English and the speed of delivery is measured so that translators can catch up and foreign nationals would understand. 

After the presentation comes the most challenging portion of the talk to practically every speaker and trainer I know. This is called the “Question and Answer” portion. Many a good presentation has broken down because of the speaker’s inability to provide a coherent and competent answer. 

One speaker representing a country I would rather leave unmentioned approached the microphone vehemently disagreeing with my point and challenged me with a provoking question which only by the grace of God enabled me to respond with facts and truths, and I hoped was able to answer her query. While the heads of the other participants nodded in agreement, this lady which at that point seemed exasperated tersely threw back the statement, “In that case, I just have to tell you, Mr. Speaker that I will agree to disagree with you!” I smiled at her as in a fit of tantrum she went back to her seat. I smiled, looked the other way and asked, “Any other question?” 

When the emcee closed the session, a crowd of students came, surrounded me with smiles, handshakes, took what seemed like endless selfies while others asked more questions and to my amazement came this same lady with a downcast face and a fallen disposition, and she patiently waited until she caught my attention. And she said, “Sir, I just came to apologize.” I asked her why. She said, “When I went back to my seat, I just realized how rude I was to you as my emotions took the better of me.” I responded, “Oh... no offense taken at all. In a forum like this, it is extremely difficult to fully explain our views and opinions, but I can assure you that I respect yours.” 

Without saying another word, she sadly turned away to go back to her seat while other students tried to crowd me again but I saw her actions and this time I said,” Wait, miss please come back.” This time her sad eyes gave way to fear and apprehension as she walked back towards me. When she came near with a smile on my face I said, could you give me a hug?” She did and her tears fell and predictably, the rest of the students gave out an orchestrated sound, “Aww!”

There will always be disagreements. So here are some ideas:

You do not have to be right all the time. There is something wrong with you if you think you are right all the time. 

You do not always have to have the last word. Some people need to have the last word even if their argument is logically flawed. 

Disagreements should not be considered as a personal affront against you.

There are things we can always learn through disagreements and being corrected is a great way for improvement.

We need to cultivate effective communication skills, and this is easier achieved when we develop people skills. Always respect the person even if he or she does not agree with you, because respect always open doors for understanding and possible agreements.

Being rude, arrogant, brash and vulgar, as seen in many movies, are mere pretensions in a Hollywood sound stage and is not real.

Courtesy and respect are still the lubricant for mutual understanding.

Now, after reading this, you may of course disagree with me, but rest assured I will still respect you.

(Join me for a whole-day learning event this Nov. 9, 2018 as I present a program entitled: “Culture of Personal Excellence from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the beautiful Santolan Town Plaza, Little Baguio, San Juan City. Limited seats are available. For further inquiries contact April at +63928-559-1798 or register online at www.successoptionsinc/cpe)

FRANCIS J. KONG
Philstar
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