Why is it so hard to agree to disagree? Have you noticed that Facebook posts inviting clarification, correction or straight up arguing are demanding your attention? Early in the campaign season it became clear that I do not agree with some people I know and love. For a while we could avoid contentious topics, but that didn’t last. Opinions masquerading as facts keep getting in the way.
Is being right, or convincing someone else that they’re wrong worth ruining relationships? I don’t think so. Friends and family face off with each other and me on political, social justice, and human rights issues daily. On the one hand, I’m delighted that my circle is so passionately diverse in thought; on the other I’d welcome more compassion and know I’m partly to blame.
We need to build some bridges. These are people I used to have long wonderful conversations with. There is joy in finding things to agree about. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff author Richard Carlson made a great point when he said, “Choose to be kind over being right and you’ll be right every time.”
It is time to agree to disagree.
Listen to understand not to respond
On effective listening, family therapist Larry Alan Nadig, Ph.D., says Combative Listening happens when we are more interested in promoting our own point of view than in understanding or exploring someone else’s view. We either listen for openings to take the floor, or for flaws or weak points we can attack.” Stop doing that. When you listen to understand attacking doesn’t make sense.
Don’t add fuel to the fire
In 10 Tips for Resolving Conflict, the author identifies four things to avoid during conflict: criticism (attacking the person’s character); contempt (insults and hostility); stonewalling (shutting down); and defensiveness (seeing self as victim.) This advice makes you think about being kind even if you disagree.
Stop fighting to win
If you care about the people you are arguing with, you have to ask yourself is winning worth it. “It’s not just that Facebook fights end without a clear victor. It’s that they often finish brutally, with mortal consequences for the relationships involved,” according to Heather Dockray in, You Can’t Win That Facebook Fight.
Agree to disagree
Agreeing to disagree means accepting that you and the person you are arguing with are not going to convince each other to change your minds and that’s okay. Stop arguing and let it go.