Disagree Without Dehumanizing

Mickey Mellen
2 min readOct 29, 2020

In his excellent book “ Never Split the Difference “, Chris Voss offered this advice regarding negotiations (hostages in his case, but he presented it for business owners):

“He who has learned to disagree without being disagreeable has discovered the most valuable secret of negotiation.”

If you can disagree with someone while still remaining a decent human being, it goes a long way toward helping people see your viewpoint.

In a recent podcast from Jamie Ivey, her and her guests talked about “ how to engage in the nuance of political policies, and being careful not to dehumanize those we disagree with “.

You’ve seen it before, mostly on social media:

  • “I can’t believe those people…”
  • “How can anyone be such a moron?”
  • “They are a unique kind of special”
  • “libtard”
  • “teabagger”

You get the idea. People say these kinds of things to “the internet”, but people reading it will take it personally. If one of your Facebook friends was a big Obama supporter and you throw out “libtard”, you hit them right in the face whether you meant to or not. Was that your neighbor? Co-worker? Friend from church? Not good…

Not only is it mean, it’s ineffective. I believe that people can and should change their minds about issues, but you lose all credibility when you start name-calling.

When it comes to my friend circle, I have a handful of friends that I completely disagree with politically but I love to hear what they have to say on big issues because they come from a place of truth and caring. We debate on many issues with both of us wanting to move forward. It’s great.

Be that person to your friends.

Originally published at https://www.mickmel.com on October 29, 2020.



Mickey Mellen

I’m a cofounder of @GreenMellen, and I’m into WordPress, blogging and seo. Love my two girls, gadgets, Google Earth, and I try to run when I can.