Everyday English 1
Everyday English 1

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Everyday English 1

4.4 Disagreeing

When you feel strongly about something, it can be difficult to keep your cool when stating your views. You need to remember that everyone is entitled to their opinion and learn to disagree agreeably. Most people don’t want to cause hard feelings because of a disagreement, but unfortunately it’s very easy to do!

Activity 29 Disagreements

Timing: Allow about 5 minutes

Think of some disagreements you’ve had with people.

  1. How do you feel when people disagree with you?

  2. How do people express their disagreement with you?

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  1. Your answer will be somewhere between feeling quite comfortable and able to discuss things in a friendly way, and feeling really upset and getting angry.

  2. Disagreement can be expressed through irritability, silence, interruptions, repetition and anger.

Handling disagreements and debate is an important part of a discussion. How you react to disagreement reflects the way in which people have responded to you and your experiences in the past.

Activity 30 Responding to disagreement

Timing: Allow about 2 minutes

Think about what you do when someone says something you disagree with or when someone disagrees with something you have said. What do you do? How do you feel?

Think about the last time you disagreed with someone. How did you both express your views? What was the result?

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People respond in different ways when someone disagrees with something you’ve said. Would any of the following apply to you?

  • You take their view as a personal attack and respond defensively.
  • You go silent and avoid any conflict.
  • You put your view forward very strongly.
  • You disagree with the view and still manage to make the person feel good about themselves.

How do other people feel when you tell them that you don’t agree with them?

When you disagree with someone it’s important to try to make them feel that you’re not disapproving of them or rejecting them.

You can say something to show appreciation and then put forward your view:

  • ‘I appreciate what you’re saying, but have you thought about ...’
  • ‘I see that that may work in some situations, but what about ...’
  • ‘I understand what you’re saying. What would you do if ...’
  • ‘I realise that you’ve given it a lot of thought, but there is another way of looking at it.’
  • ‘I’m sorry, but I don’t agree with that.’

You will notice that the examples above show respect for the person but disagree with the view they’ve put forward. Notice, ‘I don’t agree with that,’ not, ‘I don’t agree with you.’

Always try to avoid being personal!

There are other things to avoid. Certain things people say in the heat of the moment can’t possibly be true:

  • ’You always ...’ or ’You never ...’

None of us are that consistent! Using words like ‘always’ and ‘never’ raises the emotional temperature and they don’t help to maintain relationships during disagreements.

‘You make me feel ...’ is another phrase which isn’t true. Other people are not responsible for the way you feel.


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