Wednesday, March 2, 2011

We just disagree

Have you ever looked at a word for so long that it just sounded wrong? Disagree. Look at it. It's a weird word. Disagree. Like, you could put the inflection on the first syllable - DISagree - or the middle - disAgree - or the last - disaGREE.

So I'm intrigued with this whole disagree thing. I look up the word, and see that the definitions include, "to dissent. To quarrel. To be unacceptable or unfavorable." That makes it sound so.... negative. I mean, there are a lot - A LOT - of disagreements in the world right now. Some of them are pretty violent. Others are more civil. And I guess those disagreements are what I want to speak to. The civil disagreements. Because Egypt? Nope - not even going there.

What's the right way to disagree? Does it really have to mean a quarrel? How many times have you had a disagreement with someone only to have it end up in an angry, hot mess? How many of you have wished that you could slam down a cell phone the way we used to slam down the receiver of those old rotary phones? Sucks, doesn't it?

I'll admit - disagreeing is hard. You need to keep a calm head, an open mind and a five-second-delay tongue. Not always an easy task when you're trying to make your point. But AHA - is that really what you're trying to do?

Why do we disagree? Well, Amy, when one person thinks one way, and the other person thinks the other way, they go at it and try to convince each other that their way is the right way. Duh.

Um, I disagree. To a point. Yes, sometimes I think when we have differing opinions, the conversation may morph into trying to sway the other person to join our side. However, sometimes we get into disagreements that we KNOW are losing battles. An Obama supporter isn't going to join the Palin camp overnight. A Catholic isn't going to jump ship for Buddhism lightly. And you're probably never going to convince a Who fan that the Rolling Stones are better.

And sometimes, we just want others to understand and acknowledge our point of view. We don't want a fight; we just want to be heard. And if we feel strongly about it, the last thing we want to hear is how we shouldn't, how our opinion is wrong, and how the other person's way is better.

I try to teach my son this when he argues every single point that comes out of my mouth. Instead of negating every word I say, I suggested to him that he start his objections with, "In my opinion", "I believe", or "I think". Arguments between spouses or friends could be toned down with a similar approach. "Have you ever considered" instead of "You should". "Maybe you could try" instead of "I would never" and "What if" instead of "Here's what you need to do". And exercises in such diplomacy might smooth things over with that combative co-worker, when "This is how I do it" becomes "What's worked for me in the past is...".

Maybe we're all just so desperate to be validated in our own opinions that we feel the need to supersede everyone else's. Maybe we need to still feel strongly, yet voice it more productively. Maybe we need to stop trying to make our point so vehemently and start accepting others' points of view, even if we don't necessarily "agree" with them.

I'm not saying disagreements are necessarily bad. But how they progress sometimes ends up a mountain that could have been a molehill if at some point they would just step back, take a deep breath, and realize that sometimes, "There ain't no good guy; there ain't no bad guy. There's only you and me and we (sometimes) disagree."

1 comment:

  1. Ok. You're officially a genius in my book. I know I come across as too pushy at times (right? I mean, just go ahead and say it, why don't you? Come on, you know you think I'm pushy, just get it out in the open already!) and you are a very wise person. In my opinion.


For those of you not commenting directly from a blog, the simplest way to leave a comment is to go to the "Comment as" dropdown menu and select Name/URL. Type in your name and don't worry about the URL.