As a country, we are going through a time of transition. Politics aside, what goes on around us affects each one of us and our relationships whether we keep up with current events or not. I have talked with many people who had arguments, even fights, with close friends, partners or family, and broke connections with some. In other cases, people shunned them for the disagreements. So now, what do we do? How do we deal with the fallout? Or maybe even: Do we want to deal with the fallout?

Most people grow up thinking of disagreement as a criticism that their opinion or belief is wrong. This is often because as a kid, we are expected in most families to obey and accede. There are families where healthy dissent is accepted and even encouraged. That provides a foundation of dealing with such situations in a rational manner. Not so when there is much emotional discourse though. Then the louder you are, the more you get to say and maybe prevail. How do we find the sweet spot where we can disagree, discuss and then move on?

How do we mend fences when the break has been so traumatic?

As a society, community, and on an individual level with our loved ones, we need to take a look at how important those loved ones with whom we disagree are. Am I willing to write off my grandparents? How about my partner or spouse? Is there a truce we can form? How comfortable is it to avoid some subjects – a compromise I know some people choose. That brings in a boundary that can stifle spontaneity and heart-to-heart communication. How about trying to understand why we differ in opinions and beliefs? What makes me believe this way and you that way? Can we try to get into the mindset of the other and not take any disagreement personally? I may think differently from you on climate change without seeing your opinion as unfounded and you as being stupid. This takes challenging our own minds and looking inside while the other does the same, because it will work only if done by both. Can we forgive one another for equating disagreement with criticism? It is important to mention that forgiving does not necessarily mean forgetting, but only taking the blame, the negativity and the hostility away.

“Forgiveness is the economy of the heart… forgiveness saves the expense of anger, the cost of hatred, the waste of spirits.” ~ Hannah More

Author Profile

Janan Broadbent, PhD
Janan Broadbent, PhD
As a psychologist in private practice since 1979, Janan Broadbent, Ph. D. offers individual, couples, group and family therapy, in addition to conducting workshops on topics such as stress management, communication skills and assertiveness. She writes about current issues relevant to relationship building and conflict resolution in LGBTQ and minority populations, with emphasis on health, fitness and education.

Born in Turkey, Dr. Broadbent earned her undergraduate degree in psychology in 1965. At that time, first as a Fulbright Scholar, then as a CENTO Fellow, she received her master's and doctorate degrees in psychology and education from the University of California at Los Angeles. She has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in psychology at St.Mary's College of Maryland, Mt. Vernon College in Washington, D. C., Johns Hopkins University and the College of Notre Dame in Baltimore. From 1981 to 1988, she was also the Director of Counseling at Notre Dame College.
While in graduate school, Dr. Broadbent worked for the Voice of America radio program, writing and recording materials on the cross-cultural college experience. She has been interviewed on various news programs on TV and has received media training.
Dr. Broadbent is a member of the American Psychological Association and has served as the chair for the Public Affairs Board and as a member of the Executive Council of the Maryland Psychological Association.
Dr. Broadbent's office is located at:
Village of Cross Keys, 120 West Quadrangle, 2 Hamill Road, Baltimore, Maryland 21210-1847 phone: 410-825-5577