Agreeing to disagree was something I was taught to do growing up because, as a lot of us do, I have a sibling. It’s something we teach little kids so they don’t fight and so they learn to respect others opinions. So why does it seem like most adults I meet no longer have this skill?
I noticed this a lot in college. People would talk about politics, or social issues, or what is best for mental health, and it would go from a causal conversation to people shouting out each other in about three minutes flat. Our own politicians can’t seem to debate without screaming at each other. It’s terrible. You’re not always right and neither is the person you are arguing with. But if you can’t calmly hear their side of the story then you will never be able to change their mind or get them to see things through your eyes. I hate to tell you, but telling someone they’re an idiot and wrong is never going to get them to agree with you. Maybe we should try and use the tactics we try and teach our three years olds:
Can you explain why you feel that way? I understand that but have you ever thought about…? I totally see where you’re coming from, I just think we have different ideas on how to solve it. Time for brunch?
Okay, maybe our three year olds don’t get brunch, but you can see what I mean. It’s a very civil approach and it makes sense. I get that sometimes it’s hard not to get super heated about things you’re passionate about, but if you’re trying to spread that passion you have to be able to talk about it in a convincing and polite way. If you get to heated about a topic it’s going to make you angry for the rest of the day and it’s going to make the person you’re shouting out hate your view even more. It’s not just unproductive, it’s counterproductive.
I feel like I could end the post on that, but I want to talk about how many friendships I’ve seen ruined over one or two different views. Friendship is a neat thing, you can be friends with someone and never talk about politics and still have a very healthy friendship. You can disagree on big topics, like religion, and still have a very healthy friendship. How? By agreeing to disagree. By being a grown up and understanding why they think that and why you disagree.
I’m not saying everyone is logical, and I’m not saying you can expect people to always be when you are, but I am saying that most people have reasons for their views, and most the time their reasons aren’t because they hate something. It’s because they have different views on how we should approach these topics. It’s because they don’t understand something or because we don’t understand it.
It’s really possible to step away from a intense debate with respect. It’s also possible to know when not to approach a debate at all. It’s called agreeing to disagree. If a toddler can do it then you can too!
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