To Disagree Without Being Disagreeable

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2006-08-23 - Road Trip - Day 31 - United States - Oklahoma - Route 66 - Missouri - Quiet Zone - Cutout - Sign - Yellow

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photo source: CGP Grey

We live in an age where it’s often looked down upon to disagree. Whether it’s the work place, the political arena, the church, the school, or home, many of us are encouraged to shush.

Don’t rock the boat. Don’t cause trouble. Don’t say what you really think.

I think it’s pretty sad. The result, as I see it, is a lot of folks not using logic and reasoning. And a lot of people getting walked on.

Have they been conditioned out of it? Has someone neglected to teach them how to think? I don’t know. But frankly, it’s disconcerting.

In my own home I see this on a smaller level as I observe siblings and how they interact, how disagreements, misunderstandings, and emotions get in the way of hearing and being heard.

This week several children and I had a conversation about disagreeing without being disagreeable. We can’t possibly all agree on everything, but we can do it kindly and without purposely offending the other person. This includes:

  • not making things personal
  • not slinging mud
  • not making a character judgement on someone because they don’t agree with us.

All too often I see adults doing these things. Is this “just the way the world is”? Or is there something we can do about it?

Oh that I would be one who disagrees in a reasonable way, that I would not “go along to get along” at the cost of truth, that I would be able to speak the truth in love. And oh! That my children would know this.

So tell me…

How do YOU disagree without being disagreeable?

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  1. A lot of the times I feel I’m in the minority on a lot of subjects that are presented to me – whether at work, PTO mtgs, even family functions! For the most part, what I do, is run it through my head, like I’m in an imaginary converation with my husband – he’s the most commen sense, practical person I know – & he really knows how to get his point across! I never say the right thing – or don’t think of it till its’ too late. He’s awesome at it….so that’s what I do, run it around in my head with him & for the most part I can iimage what he’d say – then I take it from there!! Such a great conversation to have with our children!!

  2. I ask myself, “will my input help?” “is it relevant to my life?” “should i participate in this?” “do i have a moral obligation here?” “what am i hoping to achieve by participating in this conversation?” “will this audience actually listen?” more often than not, i have no business in the matter, i’ll state very simply my opinion only if asked and it’s helpful. if i do have a stake, if it’s an important matter, it’s completely obvious- i’m then guided by my heart and words come easy, without harm.

  3. I think this is VERY valuable to teach our children this concept in a world where drawing party lines, or picking a side seems to be the only choice. But IT IS NOT. We CAN agree to disagree, still be friends and not think ANY less of the other person. We are all human, wired very differently, from different backgrounds, so we would be WISE to listen more & then make our own decisions from the facts we see. IT IS PERFECTLY ALRIGHT TO DISAGREE. If we all thought the same way, what a boring world we would live in. We could never learn from one another. Thanks for bringing this to light.

  4. It would certainly depend on the situation/conversation — and thereafter wisdom to decipher whether it’s even necessary to disagree. I generally get a feel for the person whether they just want to “debate” or have a conversation about the matter at hand, and disagree w/o being disagreeable 🙂

  5. Well, for starters, I try to evaluate whether my “disagreeing” viewpoint even needs to be voiced in a situation. Unless it’s an issue of safety or morality– or the person is actively seeking others’ advice– I may well opt to keep it to myself. Will my opinion add value? Are others going to gain valuable insight the the logic or information I have to share? Or, as is often the case, are we all making our own choices, picking our own priorities, and learning at our own paces? There’s a time and place for debate, done in a respectful way, but I prefer to err on the side of not looking for it under every rock I find. And, honestly, I feel like *I* see more of that online– people seeking out phrases or keywords they can attack.