1.12 – Dialogue – How to Agree to Disagree (Part II)

January 12th, 2012

This is Ethiopian Review Policy Research Center’s series on From Dictatorship to Democracy extracted/quoted from books and articles published by Albert Einstein Institution and similar sources.

Disagreement is a very useful tool in life to drive improvement and progress.
Yet disagreement is seen as an unpleasant state of affairs by most people and therefore it is often suppressed as much as possible and as long as possible. People rather bite their tongue than to express disagreement and that leads to a lot of unexpressed disagreement that keeps building up steam under the surface.
On all things in life where there is agreement or there is unexpressed disagreement, improvement is zero.

Expressing disagreement is vastly better than not expressing it. Agreeing to disagree is an agreeable method to more pleasantly deal with disagreement because the disagreement is at least aired and there is not the requirement that the disagreement is eliminated by insisting to settle on compromise. The disagreeing party has at least expressed the points of disagreement so that the other party at least knows that there is in fact disagreement and can now evaluate the issues that are causing the disagreement and perhaps improve the situation by making some changes.
Agreeing to disagree does not require the very nasty confrontations that are created by those that insist that there must be agreement on all issues at all times and that they will force feed their point of view without the consideration on issues that agreeing to disagree allows for. My way or the highway attitudes are not part of agreeing to disagree.

Sometimes, no matter how much discussion occurs, you’re unable to agree on one particular point. In some cases, that single disagreement prevents further discussion. However, other times, you might be able to switch to other topics. If so, it’s best to “agree to disagree” on the point of contention and move on to the other areas. Maybe later you can return to the disagreement and work through it. But try to make progress in spite of the issues about this one thing.

Think about a way to reach a compromise. Conflict arises when people have different needs and opinions, so try to imagine a way that you can both be satisfied. It is often helpful to have a brainstorming session to prioritize what needs are most important to each party. Once these needs are clarified in a calm and rational manner, you can focus on coming up with a solution.

Part 11 – Dialogue – How to agree to disagree