How to Agree to Disagree and Still Get Along
Election seasons always ignite people’s passions on social media (and sometimes in public).
It’s easy to post from your bedroom where no one can punch you in the face. But when you have a disagreement in public, you act differently.
If you’ve known anyone well for more than a week or two, you’ll find something to disagree about. Someone said if two people agree about absolutely everything, one of them is not needed. When we disagree with someone we like, we feel tension. We want the relationship to continue, but we know it won’t be the same as it was before.
So how can we agree to disagree without being disrespectful, weird, or just plain rude?
First, let’s look at what agreeing to disagree really means. It means you tolerate but don’t accept the other person’s point of view. Tolerating means you allow something to happen without interfering. Accepting means you treat something as truth.
My brother and I don’t think the same politically. Yet, we still talk. We still celebrate holidays together. We just agree to disagree about politics, and usually just avoid the subject.
But when we do talk about it, we do these things to keep it civil:
- We don’t make it personal. We stick to facts and frame our views as “I believe” instead of “this is the way it is.”
- When we disagree, we ask questions like, “That’s interesting. Can you tell me how you came to believe that?”
- We listen before passing judgment, and when we do we use soft language: “I see. I believe …”
- We never tell the other person, “You’re wrong.” We just say, “I’m sorry, but I can’t do that.”
Relationships are tough. You’ll never change someone’s mind by arguing. The best you can hope for is to share your view and hope they draw the same conclusion. People sometimes believe what they hear, but they never doubt what they conclude.
Until that changes, we’ll have to agree to disagree. And hopefully, we can still get along.