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SOCIETY TALK

The subtle art of agreeing to disagree

Opinions personal; no need to force people to conform to your way of thinking.

In Summary
  • Therefore, instead of compromising, I have started reasoning.
  • Instead of forcing people to see my point of view, I explain the importance of the opinion according to me.

As I grow older, I find myself becoming stauncher in my beliefs. Compromising in the name of appeasement or temporary peace is becoming steadfastly difficult for me. I find it increasingly harder to reach a compromise in a dispute. Perhaps this is the so-called ‘ageing stubbornness’ we have heard so much about.

The values or philosophies that guided us through the most difficult times of our lives become ingrained in our system so much so that losing them feels like a betrayal to some part of us.

However, no matter how vehemently I find myself disagreeing with someone or opposed to his or her opinion I can never end up disliking that person. I learnt the tactic of disagreeing in my formative years of working in production. During meetings, tensions would mount and tempers would flare as everyone tried to get their point across. Nevertheless, when we left the meeting room we left all our disagreements behind and continued getting along as we usually did. From that, I learnt the crucial art of agreeing to disagree.

The unanimous understanding of ‘agree to disagree’ is that it is a resolution of a conflict whereby all parties tolerate but do not accept the opposing opinion. Agreeing to disagree is applicable when parties who differ on matters of opinion or beliefs decide to end an argument because they will never see eye to eye on the subject matter. Nevertheless, they agree to move on amicably. This solution is advantageous to disagreeing parties who would rather avoid unnecessary conflict and choose to continue existing in harmony.

We are taught that compromise in marriage is the roof of a happy home, but compromise is also the slow killer of a person’s soul. If you continually chip away at the essence of your individuality, you are bound to become a stranger to yourself in the end.

I find that applying this method of agreeing to disagree is particularly useful when dealing with family. Like any other family, my family is made up of highly opinionated people who are dead set in their beliefs. As a youngster, I would continuously butt heads with them as I tried to not only prove my point but also get them to accept the validity of my beliefs. As I matured, I started understanding how futile this attempt was. You can make someone understand your point of view but you cannot force him or her to believe what you believe.

My husband and I also find ourselves on different ends of the stick when we disagree. As a newlywed, I try to manoeuvre these challenges without causing damage to the relationship. However, I am also extremely careful of over compromising. We are taught that compromise in marriage is the roof of a happy home, but compromise is also the slow killer of a person’s soul. If you continually chip away at the essence of your individuality, you are bound to become a stranger to yourself in the end.

Therefore, instead of compromising, I have started reasoning. Instead of forcing people to see my point of view, I explain the importance of the opinion according to me. It is important to understand that our opinions are only a reflection of ourselves; no one is obligated to believe in what we believe in. I do not feel at peace with myself if I compromise on big issues that I believe in strongly, so I choose to agree to disagree. I also allow myself, occasionally, to be on the same side as that of my husband or family.

On matters especially related to philosophy, morality and values, we can never see eye to eye. Opinions like our character traits are personal; there is no need to force people to conform their way of thinking to ours. Disagreements can end up fracturing relationships and destroying families. Encouraging people to agree to disagree is not only a method of conflict resolution but it is ironically a way of finding shared interests. For even when we disagree, we still have one that one thing in common.