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Nella Coiro

Is Agreeing-to-Disagree a lost Art?

Agreeing to disagree means respecting that someone might have a different opinion than yours, and neither of you will change the other person’s opinion. Arguing is both disrespectful and a waste of time and energy. The best way to handle this situation is to change the topic.

There certain topics that are based on emotions rather than logic, and often opinion differences don’t mean that one person is right and the other person is wrong. Rather, they have different perspectives concerning the same situation.

There’s an old cliché that warns us to avoid discussions and debates concerning politics and religion, because these are highly emotionally charged topics. I think that this is also true today.

Agreeing to disagree doesn’t denote submission or consent. It simply means that you recognize that the other individual has a different opinion on this topic, you respect their right to a different opinion, and you choose not to argue about it.

If people are mature, then having a difference of opinion shouldn’t lead to hostility and anger. People need to be sophisticated enough to understand that others are entitled to have a different perspective, even if their perspective is different from yours. 

It’s nearly impossible for two people to agree on every issue, and only the most rigid and ignorant people will terminate a relationship because of this. In situations where we feel particularly passionate about a topic, it’s best to avoid a conversation if we know that the other person has a different opinion.

It seems that the internet and social media platforms have made it easier for people to argue, engage in verbal abuse, and avoid the agree-to-disagree philosophy. It’s very easy to hide behind a computer and attack or threaten someone who disagrees with you. It’s another thing to hear that person’s voice on the phone, or sit face to face with them.

People are very brave and will say things while hiding behind a computer, that they would never have the courage to say in a more personal setting that includes telephone or in-person communication.

We need to be cognizant of how we’re being heard when we’re using a computer or private messaging, because misinterpretations and escalation can run rampant.          

Again, regardless of how we choose to communicate, agreeing to disagree is about mutual respect.

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