By: Lilly Maine at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, as part of Heather Nelson’s service learning class

During life there has been a time where you did not agree with someone’s way of thinking or how they went about doing things. Whether at school, in a social setting or at work there is always a person who might not share the same opinion as you. So how do you keep that conversation going?

A few key steps to keep in mind and follow when communicating through disagreement is:

  • Communicate to understand

It is okay to not agree with someone. It is also okay to have your own opinion. But it is not okay to shut down the opinion of others simply because you don’t agree with it. Try to come to a mutual understanding.

  • Listen to what they have to say

Be a good listener. Even if at first you do not agree, give the same person the attention you would want when speaking on something you believe in. At first you don’t want to listen to respond. You should listen to understand.

  • Make sure you don’t talk over on another

When this occurs, it often can lead to a bigger disagreement. When being talked over voices tends to rise so their opinion or side can be heard. This could make the conversation hostile and prevent both parties from having a healthy conversation.

  • Control emotions

This goes hand in hand with making sure you don’t talk over others. When it comes to disagreeing some emotions, you could feel are frustrated or confused. You may not want to hear the person out or don’t want to hear their side, thus making you lead the conversation with emotions instead of understanding.  Reminder: you can’t be upset at another’s opinion.


An early example of not talking over one another and controlling emotions for me, was when speaking to my mother as I started to form my own ideas. When we would disagree on a topic and converse about it, she often wouldn’t let me share my side or I would be talked over. This made it hard for me to communicate my differences as I expected it to always end in an argument and leaving me upset as I could not speak on my behalf.

Being met with disagreement can make an environment feel hostile or could even change the mood. When disagreeing with someone, you want to not only look at things from your perspective but also the perspective of the other person. The benefit of communicating through disagreement is that you get to learn something. Not only do you get to hear the other side of things, but you also get to gather the information they might have collected on that certain topic that led them to their opinion on the matter.

At work an example of communicating through disagreement could also be simply agreeing to disagree. You can still hold a conversation to gain understanding and keep the same opinion you had before. The end goal is not technically to agree or to form a new opinion. The goal is to walk away feeling heard and understood. Walk away with information you might not have had at first.

#OSC #Communicationiskey #Opinionsmatter #Effectivelistening #Learnewthings #Opinionsmatter

About Omaha Skills Connection 

Omaha Skills Connection is a 501c3 non-profit organization located in Omaha, Nebraska established as a result of the post pandemic era to help bridge the skills gap between education, technology and today’s workforce. Omaha needs an educated, flexible and dynamic workforce in today’s knowledge-based economy. OSC connects talent to opportunity, modernizing employee development for today’s workforce.