By: Daniella Aryeh, Guest Blogger
“But most important of all, [my mother] explained that it was all right to say No. I disagree. That was a gift. I understood it was a power. The power to think my own thoughts. The power to believe in myself.” –from Incantation by Alice Hoffman.
When I was younger, it was very difficult for me to voice my opinion to others, especially when my opinion was different than the collective group. I was more timid then and didn’t want to stir the pot or hurt others by disagreeing with their point of view. It was definitely difficult when I was younger, because like everyone else, I just wanted to fit in. By agreeing with others opinions, actions, or plans, I thought I may be more accepted by others.
But in all honesty, I wasn’t happy. I had my own thoughts and opinions on things, and it was hard not to share what I thought. I realized that all the people that I was attracted to, those that I had a relationship with, those that I wanted to emulate, all had their own opinions and were not afraid to share what they thought, even if they were disagreeing with others, even if they got backlash for what they thought.
So finally the day came where I said no. I disagree. And how empowering that day was.
And you know what? I was not looked down upon. I was actually respected for it. And I am so much happier because of it. Now I am no longer afraid to stand up for what I believe in, even if I’m going against what others may think. And it isn’t always easy. In fact, sometimes it’s really brutal when you have a disagreement with someone. But if you respectfully disagree with others, people will admire you, even if they do not necessarily agree with you.
Being agreeable and good-natured are admirable traits. But in order to effect real change and to be a leader, one must often go against the norm. To make a difference, we often have to disagree with people and take different positions. Just going along with everyone will not work.
The trick is to be able to disagree without being disagreeable. Respect others points of view and they will respect yours as well. I think it starts with respecting others enough to listen to their points of view, and to do this regardless of whether or not we agree with them.
Being able to say no, to disagree with others is not necessarily a bad thing. For whatever reason, it is sometimes hard for us to disagree with others. We don’t want to hurt others by saying we disagree; we don’t want to look foolish for maybe standing up to a group of people. But it really is ok. We are allowed to be our own person, to think our own thoughts. No one is the same. And if everyone agreed about everything, that would make the world a pretty boring place, don’t you think?
It can feel anxious to take a stand when your beliefs go against the grain of others. Remember that everyone wants to be seen, heard, and respected. Try acknowledging the other person's perspective as you offer your own.
I am in the process of completing my master’s degree in speech-language pathology. I love traveling, meeting new people, hanging on the beach, and will read anything I can get my hands on. I am obsessed with country music, and I constantly quoting Friends and One Tree Hill.
image via ziglar.com