Deepak Chopra, the wellness and meditation star who has served Lady Gaga as a spiritual advisor and is friends with the Dalai Lama, defines a disagreement as a "clash of egos".
To adequately enter into a disagreement cannot be about winning it or changing someone else's mind – "otherwise they'll turn into persistent, angry arguments," said Chopra. Instead, there are “disagreements as a starting point for negotiations”.
From his home in La Jolla, California, 73-year-old Chopra has looked at the fearful and angry state of the world and is not surprised. Some people may think this moment is the height of the political and social divide – with people luring each other on social media, straying from friendships, and even breaking up with lovers because of political polarization – but Mr Chopra said, our behavior is nothing new. "It's been like this since the Stone Age," he said.
After years of working on conflict resolution and mediating his fair share of disputes between national leaders (which he must of course keep in strict confidence), Mr Chopra still has a few tips on how better not to agree. He should know: Mr. Chopra is not without critics who are prepared not to agree with him either. Over the course of his career, the New Age celebrity and author of 91 books has argued with scientists and doctors for advocating alternatives to medicine and statements that contradict accepted research.
While his advice may not help you change someone else's mind or behavior, he can help you stay calm at the end of a conflict.
Choose if you want to get involved at all
There is no point in engaging in certain debates. It is highly unlikely that you will change someone's mind if they still refuse to wear a face mask until 2020, for example. There are just some confrontations that are not worth it.
When these come up, Mr. Chopra's strategy is to go in a different direction: "This is it."
And as far as he should put it, he said, “There is no general rule that needs to be followed except this one: walk away every time you come across a dead end. Everything else is pointless. "
There are certain other tricky subjects, including religion and ideology, that Mr Chopra said fail to when it comes to engaging in arguments. ("Ideology is a firm worldview," he said. Being open-minded and tolerant "is not an ideology, as any sane person knows.")
This also applies to social media. If you are preparing to use someone else's social media feed, you definitely have no support from them. Take a deep breath and move on. "I don't bother with arguments. I never answer critics," Chopra said. He also doesn't respond to "flatterers." He's only on social media to distill information or offer inspiration. But every now and then he becomes one Sneak a peek at a comment under an Instagram post and confirm it. "I answer, but not the question," he said. "I answer with an inspirational quote."
If you decide to leave, this is where you can stop reading.
Before you leave, you likely need to let go of a pent-up resentment that you chewed up because you chose not to delve into your reasoning. Mr. Chopra said, “Sit quietly with your eyes closed, take a deep breath, and focus your attention on your heart. Continue until the remaining anger is gone. "
OK, you've decided to get involved. So listen first.
If you don't start with an open ear, you've lost your opponent. The key is listening to the other person enough to get to know them authentically – at least a little.
"If you don't know what's going on in your head, in your life, in your relationships, in your personal experience of everyday reality, where is the solution?" Mr. Chopra said. "You will only attack them."
Listening can cool you and the other person off.
Learn about the other person's values.
The easiest way to learn about someone is to ask what is important to them. Mr. Chopra has used the following strategy when engaging in conflict resolution, even among his high-profile clientele: "I tell them to eat Chinese food together and talk about their mother, father or their teenage years," he said : "Something that shows you that you are a normal person and that you can also be vulnerable." He said that it is a token of strength to express your vulnerability.
This is the best way to understand a person's values that Mr. Chopra defines as core beliefs. “They don't relate to politics, religion, money or sex. They fit the description "speak your truth," he said. "Find your truth before you vent."
Try awareness and a break.
Now that you've listened to the other person (and maybe even understand them better), you might be angry. When a person feels challenged, Mr. Chopra said a natural response is "fight-flight-freeze" mode. This reaction makes it immediately impossible to be calm and calculated.
Another common impulse is the reactive response or, as Mr. Chopra calls it, "the ego response". We learn this, he said, at a young age. It manifests in four variations: "Nice and manipulative, evil and manipulative, persistent and manipulative and the victim and manipulative to play." So basically be manipulative.
However, there are far more productive approaches. Mr. Chopra said he would address a disagreement with "discernment, intuition, inspiration, creativity, vision, greater purpose or integrity of authenticity". This, he said, means going past flying combat frost and taming the ego enough to move on to other options. You could call it this: take the hill. And as his latest book, Total Meditation, points out, there are other ways to develop these skills than sitting for half an hour each day meditating.
Don't bother with black and white thinking
Mr. Chopra quoted George W. Bush – "You are either with us or against us" – to illustrate a bellicose approach to disagreement (and said this type of behavior is what he often implicates world leaders). "It's like being a school bully in fourth grade," he said. And you should refrain from it.
To make his point clearer, he highlighted a statement from Nelson Mandela: "Having a grievance or a grudge is like drinking poison and hoping it will kill the enemy."
When faced, stop, take a deep breath, smile, and then make a choice.
Ask yourself, 'Am I going to be angry? Will i be reactive? Or is there a creative solution for this? “Said Chopra.
If someone were to verbally attack him, Mr. Chopra said he could reply: "I would like to hear your point of view. I also admit that you are currently insulting me personally. I do not allow myself to be insulted. So thank you for that offended me. But now let's explain our values and our plan of action for those values and get the personalities out of the way overall. "
He advises cultivating mindfulness to better "notice the moment before you get angry and then let the impulse subside before it gains more energy."
If someone attacks you, it's okay to walk away too. "Why not? Bullies need victims, and staying makes victims," said Chopra.
Don't try to prove them wrong
Mr Chopra said you can hit another person – figuratively – and they could forgive you, but if you prove them wrong they will never forgive you. Then nobody "won" the argument, said Mr Chopra. It's not about "winning", but about negotiating.
Someone who is angry or upset believes they have done wrong in some way. "Realize that your opponent, either consciously or unconsciously, feels a sense of injustice, no matter who he is," said Mr. Chopra. You might say, “I see that you feel that this is not a fair solution for you. Tell me why. "You can investigate further with," What are you observing? What are you feeling? What is the need that has not been met because you feel unfair? Maybe I can help you meet that need, "said Chopra . "It works out. I'll tell you!"
He said you should consider your own children (or children in general). "All your children want from you is to be heard, loved, noticed, what they can and accepted. They don't want to change because you want them to change." So if you follow the same principles of Applying attention, affection, appreciation, and acceptance in adults, you might have "a shot," he said.
The key here, Mr. Chopra added, is the "other person". "Arguments are never won when the other person feels attacked or humiliated."
Be ready to forgive
He quoted a conversation he had had with the Dalai Lama 20 years ago: “I asked him, 'Are you mad at the Chinese? "(Incidentally, Mr. Chopra said," You have taken over Tibet and the Dalai Lama is a refugee, along with all his monks. They have no land. They live in India and they are refugees. Any sensible person would be crazy. ”)
Mr. Chopra remembered the Dalai Lama who said, "I'm not mad at the Chinese. I'm just mad at what they did. But they did what they did from their state of consciousness, and one thing One day we will have a solution. "
You may not feel that the other person deserves forgiveness in a disagreement, but remember that to keep your own peace. Forgiveness for Mr. Chopra doesn't mean, "I'm in love, I hug you, I forgive you. You forgive me." It means you stopped judging someone's behavior in the past, he said. "It's irrelevant. Let's change the story."
Make a (gentle) joke
The world would be a happier place in Mr. Chopra's mind if everyone laughed more. (For him, that means going to YouTube and watching Candid Camera or making a Charlie Chaplin movie.) It's okay to bring humor into a tense conversation as long as it's not cruel or humiliating. "Have you ever seen the current president laugh or make a joke?" Mr. Chopra asked. "I don't trust anyone who can't laugh. So laugh."