When was the last time someone argued with you over your life choices? Was it last month? Last week? Two seconds ago?
Students today are facing a rapidly evolving job market. The jobs that young people have been trained for centuries through traditional schooling are no longer widely prevalent in today’s society. The future demands forward-thinking creative individuals who can question, problem-solve, and think critically about how to create a better world for us all.
This is a beautiful thing. It also means the mold society has followed in large part is breaking. This means young adults who choose to venture outside the mold are going to disagree and face criticism. A lot.
So how can we disagree with others and view criticism in a healthy, productive way?
This quirky video via @SoulPancake starring The Kid President has some answers.
Step One: Treat People like They’re People.
This may seem obvious, but often, when we get into a heated discussion, our minds shift into the mammalian center of our brains, where our emotional responses come from. This part of our brain is unable to process long-term thinking, and demands instant gratification. (i.e: winning the argument.) Because of this, we often say hurtful things we would never say in a calm state. If you find this challenging, just invoke the wise words of Meowth from the Pokemon movie:
“We do have a lot in common. The same air, the same earth, the same sky. Maybe if we started looking at what’s the same instead of always look at what’s different… well, who knows?”
Step Two: Listen, Listen, Listen.
When we disagree, we have to decide if we’re going to talk WITH someone or talk AT them. One implies learning and curiosity, while the other implies a closed mind. While shouting into the wind can feel good, it doesn’t get us anywhere if no one hears it. There’s no point to disagreement without the goal of creating change. If we refuse to listen to others, they’ll feel alienated, and will realize they’re not participating in a conversation. So listen to others, and urge them to listen to you. Remember, disagreement and failure are two beautiful ways to learn.
After all, as Ghandi said, “Honest disagreement is often a good sign of progress.”
Step Three: Pause. Breathe. Love.
If we are passionate about what we disagree on, our emotional state will be activated. To keep our minds open and our conversation humane, reminding ourselves to pause, breathe, and maintain loving intentions toward one another will allow us to access the problem-solving part of our brain.
Step Four: Distraction.
Have you ever gotten so deep into an argument that you’ve forgotten what you were arguing about? Sometime we get so stuck in wanting to be heard that we spiral down like a fork in a sea of swirling spaghetti. Shocking the brain with a distraction can bring us back, like pressing the reset button, whether it’s pausing to get some frozen yogurt, or pointing out the dog trying to mambo with a large stick.
Step Five: Acceptance.
When you commit to walking your own path, people are not always going to agree. You will face criticism and doubt, and this will likely not feel good. However, as CMASAS team member Mark Guay tells us, “Criticism is the number one helpful sign that you’re walking your own path and creating work that matters.” While criticism never feels great, it’s helpful to outline on paper what you want for your life, and how you’d like to live it. That way, when others criticize or disagree, you can remember what you wrote, and be grateful that the criticism is there because you’re staying true to your purpose.
Step Six: Dance.
This step may not seem essential, but it definitely can’t hurt.