Agreeing to disagree… Ummmm NO!
If you have other people in your life (as I’m sure you do) there will come a time when you disagree. Even with the closest of friends.
I recently read an article written by Dr. Paul Ekman, whose work among other things, revealed the universal signals for emotions in facial micro-expressions. The article titled “Respectful Disagreements” gives a great perspective on dealing with arguments in as non-destructive a manner possible.
Anyone who knows me, knows I’m not afraid of a good argument or debate. I like to think however that, for the most part, both sides come out of it better. For me, an argument has always been a moment to learn something.
I’ve never been one to shy away from saying “I don’t know” if indeed that is the case, however, if I disagree on something, you can be sure that I have a good reason to disagree. I’ll be totally honest here and say that most often when I disagree, the first thing that goes through my mind is “you’re wrong.” Then curiosity gets me. (This actually happens within a couple of seconds.) I then feel compelled to share my reason in the hope that the other person will see the error of their ways and come to my way of thinking. Arrogant, egocentric… Maybe! However, I don’t allow this mindset to rule.
Through some unique events that happened to me early in life, I have adopted the mindset that “all beliefs are temporary until something better comes along” and that nothing is certain. This mindset plays a massive part in arguments and debates. Once I push past my own ego, I actually hope that the other person has a good reason for their standing too. It is this reason that I am passionate to understand.
From my perspective, the other person must know something that I don’t in order to be passionate enough to argue. It is in my desire to understand the other side of the coin, to show interest in their side, that allows me to argue without causing damage to the relationship. Bottom line, I want to learn something new or to understand a different perspective that I may be unaware of.
At the end of the argument, one of three things should happen:
- I’ll let go of my ideas because the other person has opened my eyes to a new and better way.
- The other person will take on my perspective because I have opened their eyes to a new and better way.
- What often happens; we’ll both learn something new and create a new level of understanding that we both take on.
None of us like being told that we’re wrong. I think even the most enlightened soul would initially resist a new perspective at what they believe they “know” to be true. In accepting that all beliefs are temporary, has made arguing and debating much easier and constructive for all involved. Of course, there will always be the schmucks who relentlessly hold onto an idea purely because it’s one they’ve always held on to and nothing will change that. Thankfully, I don’t have nor want these types of stagnant people in my life.
One of my most despised phrases in the English language is “we’ll have to agree to disagree!” With this attitude no one grows, no one learns, no one evolves. If all of humankind took this approach, we would have never learned anything or progressed as a species. By questioning everything, disagreeing, arguing constructively, and then learning from what transpires, we are able to progress individually as well as a whole.