John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church, is credited with the popular saying, “Agree to disagree”. He is quoted during a memorial sermon to a good friend in 1770, “In these we may think and let think, we may ‘agree to disagree’. But in the meantime, let us hold fast the essentials…”
We can disagree on whether or not we need universal health care, whether or not “trickle down” economics is good for everyone or whether or not there will ever be a wall. We can disagree on what is best for America.
But, we can not disagree on basic human decency. Treating others like we would like to be treated. Even the “others” we don’t agree with.
Social media, for all it has done to connect us, has given us the ability to disagree disrespectfully with very little consequence. We seem to have forgotten that it is possible to discuss difference in opinion in a civil manner.
There are five ways to disagree with someone and still show respect for their point of view according to an article I found:
- Don’t make it personal. If you get upset, it can help to remember you’re mad at the idea or concept your parent (or friend, coach, coworker, etc.) is raising, not the person.
- Avoid putting down the other person’s ideas or beliefs. If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of someone’s tirade or put-downs, you know how valuable using respectful language and behavior can be. So instead of saying what you might be thinking (“That’s a stupid idea!”), try: “I don’t agree, and here’s why.” Resist the temptation to yell, use sarcasm, or make derogatory comments and you’ll have a much better chance of getting your point across.
- Use “I” statements. Using “you” statements can sound argumentative. For example, telling your mom or dad, “You always remind me about my chores on Wednesdays when you know I have a lot of homework” has a very different tone from “I’m feeling pressured because I have a lot of homework tonight. Can I do those chores tomorrow?”
- Listen to the other person’s point of view. Being a good listener is a way of showing that you respect and understand the other person’s perspective. That makes it more likely he or she will do the same for you. When the other person is talking, try to stop yourself from thinking about why you disagree or what you’ll say next. Instead, focus on what’s being said. When it’s your turn to talk, repeat any key points the other person made to show you listened and heard what was said. Then calmly present your case and why you disagree.
- Stay calm. This is the most important thing you can do to keep a conversation on track. Of course, it’s a huge challenge to stay calm and rational when you feel angry or passionate about something — especially if the person you’re talking to gets heated. You may need to be the mature one who manages the conversation, even if the other person is a parent or someone who should know better.
If you can’t do these things, you can’t expect the other person to do the same. Starting off with derogatory statements or condemnation is a sure fire way to have your message ignored. I think the expression is, “Falling on deaf ears…”
Name calling and generalizations lessen your ability to not only share your information but learn from someone else’s. And they make you sound stupid.
I have read many times in the last month posts like, “I have to unfriend so many people because of all the negativity.” Sorry, but this gives you a Facebook feed filled with only people who agree with you. And if everyone else does it, it means YOUR Facebook posts will only be shared with people who believe as you do. What is the good in that?
Please, let’s agree to disagree about many things. And let us not lose what makes us great in the process.