There are times when someone may say something to you and you immediately disagree or wonder, why would he think that?
That’s ridiculous. But, once the reasoning is explained to you, you realize that even though you may still disagree with what was said, you’re able to see why the person has that perspective. It only takes for you to open your mind a little bit, to think a little more about what was said before forming, or reforming, your own opinion. After all, it’s just an opinion. You have yours and they have theirs.
It’s a great thing to be able to agree to disagree, which is a different way of saying, “I understand what you’re saying and why you feel that way, yet I feel differently about it.” It takes a mature mind to be able to do that. There are people who are so adamant about their beliefs that they refuse to accept that you feel otherwise. I’m not talking about life altering beliefs, I’m talking about trivial things like why a person may not go to a festival, things that aren’t really that serious – of course, that’s my opinion. I’ll give you an example of a recent conversation I had with someone:
“I’d like to see you. What are you doing later this week, say Thursday?”
“Not much, what do you have in mind?”
“I don’t know. We’ll think of something.”
Wednesday, “So, what are we going to do tomorrow?”
“I don’t know. I don’t know. I haven’t looked into where there is to go or what there is to do.”
“Well, there’s an Italian festival downtown. We could go there.”
“Oh, I’d never go to an Italian festival.”
“Really? Why? There’ll be music, vendors, new foods to try, a different culture’s artwork to view.”
“I’d never go to an Italian festival because they’d never come to one of our festivals.”
“What do you mean they never come to one of our festivals?”
“Italian people never come to African American festivals, so I’d never go to one of theirs.”
“Ummmm, okay, so you know for a fact that an Italian person has never and would never go to an African American festival.”
“No, I’m not saying that, but they don’t.”
“Well, you just said they never have and never would. Now you’re saying you didn’t say that, but you said the same thing again. I’m not understanding what you mean.”
“I’m saying I’d never go to one of their festivals because they’d never come to one of ours.”
“Okay, I see what you’re saying. You feel as though Italian people wouldn’t come to an African American festival and so you won’t go to one of theirs, right?”
“Okay, I understand what you’re saying, but I think you’re wrong. I’ve been to many different types of festivals and there’s all sorts of people there. Just because I go, it doesn’t mean I’m supporting any particular group of people or any particular ethnicity. I go to have an open mind and to expose myself to new things, new artwork, new clothing and jewelry designs, new foods, to hear different types of music. That’s what festivals are about, trying and seeing new things. I understand you don’t want to go, but I think you’re missing out on having new experiences.”
That’s an example of agreeing to disagree, understanding someone’s point of view, acknowledging their view is different from your own, accepting their reasoning while sharing your opinion in a respectful way. A difference of opinion doesn’t have to be combative or argumentative, though it takes two open minds to respect alternative viewpoints. Be open enough to hear out the other person, ask clarifying questions, and really think about what they’re saying.
Think about it to understand it. Be the person who thinks enough.
Don’t be the person who thinks…not enough.
I look forward to reading your thoughts and experiences regarding agreeing to disagree.
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(This article has been cross-posted with minor edits from deborahldixon.com)