How to Disagree Without Attacking

The difference between disagreement and attack:

With disagreement, you restate the conclusion of your opponent, the facts he referred to, his reasoning — and then your objection to his facts and/or his reasoning. OR you explain why you think his conclusion is wrong, given his facts, assumptions and reasoning.

This explains your position, while also giving your opponent an opportunity to see if you have understood and represented his reasoning and conclusion correctly.

With attack, you call the person a name, or you say something deliberately offensive WITHOUT doing any of the above. You’re going after HIM, not his reasoning. If you had, in fact, done the above, you would not be tempted to call him a name or be personally offensive.

In disagreement, it’s the REASONING you’re objecting to. Not necessarily the person.

The failure to make this distinction is the cause of what many of us label “lack of civility” on social media, and elsewhere. If your position is strong, there’s no need for personal attack. If the person you’re attacking is hopelessly dishonest or truly a villain (as so many in public life are today), then you simply remind people of why this is so. But if you’re interacting with people you know little or nothing about, you have no basis for treating them as evil. There’s no “need” to attack them. In doing so, you reveal your own weakness or lack of confidence in your own understanding of their reasoning, and why you think it’s mistaken.



Follow Dr. Hurd on Facebook. Search under “Michael Hurd” (Charleston SC). Get up-to-the-minute postings, recommended articles and links, and engage in back-and-forth discussion with Dr. Hurd on topics of interest. Also follow Dr. Hurd on Twitter at @MichaelJHurd1, drmichaelhurd on Instagram, Michael Hurd Ph.D. on LinkedIn, @DrHurd on TruthSocial


Why Get Help?

Solution-focused life coaching with Dr. Hurd