4 Great Ways to Shift Your Perspective in the Heat of a Disagreement

We all know how easy it is to make one comment to someone - whether it’s in person or on social media - and then find ourselves in a heated argument. We get caught up in trying to convince others that we’re right, and we get offended when their opinions are different than ours. We end up frustrated, angry, and misunderstood.

We may not feel like we have any control over these conversations, but we do. Now that you’ve found yourself in a tug-o-war conversation, what can you do?


1) Step away

First, it’s OK to step away.

If you’re on social media, get off.

If you’re in person, feel free to say, “I’m not comfortable with where this conversation is going. Can we just end it?” or a simple, “I don’t want to discuss this anymore.” You don’t have to give a reason.

If being direct makes you feel uncomfortable, excuse yourself to the bathroom. Whatever it takes, remove yourself from the situation.


2) Notice your feelings

Your feelings are your radar system to your beliefs and values. If you’re feeling aggravated or angry, what belief or value of yours is being triggered? Having an understanding of this can help you redirect the conversation.

For instance, if you notice that your belief about “respect” is being challenged, you can say, “Can we agree that everyone wants to be treated with respect?”

From this base of common agreement, you have two options:

End the conversation with the agreement;

Build on the agreement to understanding how each of you is defining respectful behaviors.

3) Mirroring

Mirroring is a powerful tool for self-awareness and self-reflection.

When we disagree with someone, we tend to think it’s a faulty way in which they are approaching the subject. With mirroring, we discover that the issue may actually be with us and how we are experiencing the world.

For example, when we read an article, email, or social media post, we may wonder why the person is so angry... but maybe it’s just our own anger reflected back to us. The concept of mirroring would require us to ask of ourselves, “Why am I so angry?”

Mirroring also helps us to understand others. When someone is calling us angry, we can use mirroring to recognize that what they are reflecting is, in fact, their own anger. That helps us not to take what they are saying so personally, and it may even help us build compassion.

(Read more about mirroring in a previous blog here.


4) Refocus your attention

When we’re frustrated or angry, we often do not think straight. In order to calm ourselves down and clear up the pathway between our heart and our brain, we need to refocus our attention. There are a couple of easy ways to do this.

If you have stepped away from the conversation, pull up a picture of someone or something you love. Anything that gives you a feeling of calm, comfort or love in your heart will do. Take a few moments to focus your attention on that picture to draw your attention away from the discussion and refocus on a more peaceful topic.

If you’re in the middle of an argument, you can try the Quick Coherence® Technique from HeartMath. This technique may be something you already naturally do, maybe even without knowing it. Your goal with Quick Coherence is to use your heart to balance your thoughts and emotions.

First, focus your attention in the area of the heart. Imagine your breath is flowing in and out of your heart or chest area, breathing a little slower and deeper than usual. Try to keep your in breaths and your out breaths even.

Next, make a sincere attempt to experience a feeling such as kindness, care or gratitude for someone or something in your life. It helps to try to focus on someone or something you love, such as a partner, a pet, a special place, or an accomplishment you’re proud of.

With this technique, it should take about a minute for you to gain a more balanced, coherent state.



Try one or all four of these techniques to shift your perspective in the heat of a disagreement, and let me know on social media how they work for you!


© 2017, Susan McCuistion


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