Exactly When Should We Agree to Disagree?
He or she is so deeply rooted in an ideology or philosophy that to change would be a renunciation of their individual, long-standing and deeply entrenched belief system.
Politics is a somewhat easy example to cite.
Despite the old admonishment to not discuss politics in polite company, it makes sense that, if we believe a certain thing to be important regarding our country, we are naturally going to want to persuade others toward that same end.
And, when approached correctly, there is no reason not to.
How we go about the persuasion process is important. We’re much more likely to be successful when coming from a place of respect rather than anger and vitriol.
I personally found the back-and-forth arguments I observed on Social Media during the recent presidential campaign — filled with personal, vicious and hateful insults toward those who disagreed with one another — extremely disappointing. I doubt that many opinions were ever actually changed, but I don’t doubt that friendships (or potential friendships) were harmed.
Of course, even with rational, respectful disagreement, that doesn’t assure persuasion.
So, I believe the question then is not, “should we talk about a certain topic?” but “when should we stop talking about that topic?”
I believe the answer is when you and the other person have reached a crossroad; that point where any further discussion cannot possibly help your relationship, but might just hurt it. At that point it is best to respectfully “agree to disagree.” This honors the person’s right to believe a certain way without agreeing with that way.
One benefit is that it leaves them much more open to your other ideas when you speak again. And, maybe you can even re-visit the current idea. This could never happen without their trust that you will — in the end — respect their right to believe what they choose to believe.
Yes, because the person knows you will not try to coerce or bully them into accepting your opinion, they’ll actually be more open to the possibility of embracing your opinion, should you be able to make your point persuasively enough.
Sure, know what to say and how to say it. And…know when to stop saying it.
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