Friend A makes a comment.

Friend B disagrees with the comment.

Should Friend B tell A why they disagree?

Or should B just remain quiet and not rock the boat?

There was a time when I wouldn’t hesitate voicing my opinion if it didn’t align with something that was said. Now, with my friends, I often wonder when and if I should speak up.

People have become, let’s just say, sensitive about their opinions… People have stopped being friends because of opinions. People have said harsh words to others because of opinions.

Has the age of polite discourse ended? Does everyone see their opinion as fact, and therefore unmovable? Do we regard those who think differently than ourselves as stupid?

Let’s take a step back:

Perhaps we need to reevaluate…

How do we relearn how to have a discussion with someone who has a different viewpoint than our own?

  1. When someone makes a statement that you don’t agree with, take a breath. Do not react or say something right away. A discussion is not a contest to see who responds the quickest.
  2. Ask why the person thinks that way. Sometimes you have to walk in someone’s shoes in order to understand why they made the statement. Do not assume the backstory. Find out your facts first. You may have heard a conclusion that took the person a long time to come to.
  3. Don’t assume the person is stupid, non educated, or anything else. Assumptions, stereotypes and judging all hide under the same banner.
  4. Listening means listening. It means taking in the words that the other is saying. It does not mean holding your breath and thinking about your possible responses. Try to understand what the person means.
  5. If you choose to state your differing thoughts, do so in as calm a manner as possible. Remember, this is someone you presumably have some sort of relationship with, or know someone who does. Treat them with the respect with which you wish to be treated.
  6. Remember, you do not have to air your opposing opinion. There are no points for arguing with someone. You make the decision whether or not you wish to engage or continue with the discussion.
  7. If you choose to say your opposing viewpoint, keep in mind as to your goal. Do you just want to show them a different opinion to give them food for thought? Or are you trying to change their mind?
  8. Ask yourself if your mind would be changed if you made the statement first and the other chose to argue the point with you. If nothing would change your thoughts, why do you think the other person will change theirs?
  9. Do you want to discuss something? Or do you just want to prove that you are right and they are wrong?
  10. Are you trying to take the moral high ground? And if your goal is to take the moral highroad, are you really accomplishing this by arguing a point?

I know that I do not always follow my own rules. Ok- I almost never follow my own rules. However, when I am in what is supposed to be polite conversation, I am going to try to think before I speak.

Most of the time anyway…

72 thoughts on “We Just Disagree

    1. I’m going to give you the backstory to today’s post. We were out a few months ago and a friend made a comment that I didn’t agree with at all, and I said something to him about it. In retrospect, I don’t know if I should have said anything because I don’t know if it would do any good.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. For me I think it would depend on what the comment was about. I did say something to my MIL this summer when she said some things I didn’t agree with at all. I knew it wouldn’t make a difference, but I couldn’t just let her think I agreed with any of it.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. I just responded to Jane about this idea in a roundabout way. My intent of this post when I jotted it down a few months ago was to talk about the comment made that made me think about this. Since then, I’ve been wondering if my speaking my feelings every time I disagree actually makes me feel better, and most times it doesn’t. Does not saying anything mean you agree? I’m going to think about that in a future post. That’s a great question

        Liked by 3 people

  1. It is undoubtedly a good idea to think before you speak, and longtime friendships are worth preserving. But holding your tongue/keeping your own counsel doesn’t mean you won’t be surprised and disappointed by their view. And it doesn’t mean that you will forget. Also, if what they say is racist or hateful in some other way, holding your peace is tantamount to agreeing with them.

    Liked by 7 people

    1. It’s funny you said this because I came up with this idea because of a conversation I had with a friend. He made a comment that I thought was misogynistic. I called him on it. The on,y thing that my calling him out on it did was make for an uncomfortable situation because this person was not ever going to see things differently. Originally when I put down this blog idea I was going to talk about the actual thing he said, but realize when I was beginning to write that that was not something I thought would be beneficial to write about. I don’t know if not saying anything means you tacitly agree with someone else. Since this incident a few months ago, I’ve come to the conclusion that saying my piece doesn’t make me feel any better, nor does it make the other person change their mind or see the light. It just means I need to spend way less time with them.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Jane I agree with you. At least by speaking up you expose ignorance . Others may not agree, but to ignore bigotry and keep quiet you allow it to continue. When I think about the vast amount of women who kept quiet to keep their jobs in the 60’s and 70’s. The injustices and double standards were in many cases criminal. How on earth does someone let that continue? Think about it, Would RBG have gotten to the Supreme Court if she had kept quiet? Nope! Perhaps it’s my generation that forced my hand to speak out. But, When you grow up having to fight to earn every single right you have, you don’t take any of it for granted. THAT, I think is the biggest difference between my generation and one let’s say, ten or more years younger. Growing up with certain opportunities has allowed people to forget that our rights can disappear in an instant. So we have to continually remind everyone to never lose sight of our freedoms and respect for one another.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Great advice for all us, LA. It is very important to pause, breathe into all situations as they arise, reflect, and then choose a response. I do think it is very important that people in relationship with each other are able to share their truths (as you write, in constructive and respectful ways), as to not do so will only breed discontent and resentment…

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I completely understand, beleive me. I lived in anger/reactivity for a long, long time…I know all about it…there is another way, yet, it takes time to develop, which is why you writing about responding instead of reacting is so important. People do have a choice, yet most of them cannot see or feel it.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I think people can discuss and disagree without getting angry. As long as communication is open people can still agree to disagree. I can accept that some people are not as enlightened or able to see things in a broader sense. But, getting into crazy shouting matches doesn’t help communication.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. People say things without thinking, or without knowing. Our definitions of things have also changed. I’m going to try to listen more before I call someone something. I don’t want it done to me so I’m trying not to do it to someone else

        Liked by 2 people

  3. I think specific things have to be called out, and I agree with Jane: being silent is being complicit. It’s not about trying to change someones views, because as you said, many are locked in and won’t change. It is about respect and the ethical/moral ideal behind that. We tend to step in when physical abuse is happening (simple example: bullying) but why are we afraid to step in and say no, stop, what you just said is wrong, period. Those sorts of “conversations” typically are degrading and marginalizing. Emotional abuse. Why do we ignore those?

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Here’s what I’ve come to realize…it’s 98% grey. Without context can you necessarily condemn? And you have to add in cause du jour. I wrote a few weeks ago about my friend who harassed returning soldiers from Vietnam because she thought she had the moral high ground. In hindsight she realized she didn’t. For today…think if the Palestinian/Jewish debate….both sides are going to think they have the moral right….I have an opinion on this subject, but there are people who are going to think my opinion is offensive. I can also harken back to when I said that I don’t believe in defunding the police…I was called such horrible things that I almost gave up blogging. Yet, since my city has defunded, I see an over 80% increase in crime, violence and murder, with the vast majority of victims being persons of color….was it wrong to call me all the names I was called, or were there parts of my thoughts that were valid?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I agree about the gray areas, although perhaps 98% is a bit generous! I am focused on the specific, and very blatant examples that come with racism, sexism, sexual preference and orientation, xenophobia, cultural bias, religious persecution…. Unacceptable at any time. I also agree that your situational examples can be less clear, maybe less specific is a better description. I also wonder what lies beneath those opinions and as noted trying to engage in discussion may uncover simple misinformation from either side, or it may uncover a deeper motive. To risk engagement or to simply walk away…no proof statistically, but I feel like more simply walk away.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Even so…I’ll tell you one that my friends came across recently. There 8 year old daughter went to sleep away camp. The cabin leader or counselor or whatever they’re called these days identifies as a woman. Well, these girls all saw a penis on their counselor and noticeably freaked out, some dropping out if camp. Is it right to say that these girls are anti LGBTQ+? Or are they children caught unaware?

        Liked by 2 people

      3. oh my…would not say the girls are likely anti anything, but certainly not prepared for that type of reveal (which brings up lots of questions itself). Now the parents when they found out- I’m choosing to simply walk away from this example!

        Liked by 2 people

      4. I didn’t go to sleep away camp, and neither did my daughter, so I don’t really know what the protocol is. I’m guessing with the younger campers, an adult might stay in the cabin. My friend who told me this had a 12 year old son at the camp, and she found out the story first from him, and then when enough parents called to complain the camp gave an official statement. But the statement was worded more that the girls shouldn’t have been terrorized by this…

        Liked by 1 person

      5. At our city pool in Palm Springs a man who identified as a woman showered in the women’s locker room. It was right before swim team practice and there were dozens of young girls in there who were shocked. The city no longer allows adults and children to use the pool at the same time which is sad, because many of the elderly enjoy being around children. It brings them joy.

        Liked by 2 people

      6. I have major issues with how people identify in regards to gender despite whatever sex they are. If someone doesn’t get gender reassignment surgery they should under no circumstances be showering or going to the restroom that isn’t their current designated sex.

        Liked by 3 people

      7. Seriously? Where is our common sense? There are quite lines about children and nudity etc. in a camp young children are supposed to be chaperoned. There’s no reason for kids to see anyone’s genitalia in sleep away camp. That’s part of what the adults in the camp do to keep things in tow. I taught elementary school but I didn’t share a bathroom with the kids. Common sense people.

        Liked by 3 people

      8. I think the university has to have set guidelines. Or rules so all entering students know what to expect. Then no surprises. I have two sons. Both had a few room mates in college. My oldest son and his first roomie just didn’t hit it off and switched after the first semester. So sometimes people just don’t Mesh. But that son is now 48 and after the first roommate fiasco the next college roommate remains his best Buddy til this day. So I imagine gender might be something they want to know. But by the time my younger son went to college more than a decade after his brother, boys and girls frequently shared college apartments so that stuff would not have phased him in the least. It just depends on the kids.

        Liked by 2 people

      9. But it’s illegal for a university to say if someone is transgender. So it’s up the the individual to disclose the information. Should you tell your roommate? Or should the roommate happen upon seeing that their roommate doesn’t have the same anatomy? Is the person anti LGBTQ+ if they prefer a roommate that shares the same genitalia?

        Liked by 2 people

      10. I have another one. Friends kid is freshman at college. A group were together and one kid, international student where English is not his first language used the word jew instead of Jewish person. The kid is now called out as an anti Semite….

        Liked by 2 people

      11. This is a group of college freshman. Why would the RA be involved. And is it even ignorance, or is it a language issue? This is how kids react to things these days. If I talked to my daughter and her friends I’m sure I would hear a thousand of these stories.

        Liked by 1 person

      12. LA I thought you were talking about a dorm situation. An apartment situation is different. I had my kids set up initially in a dorm . And if you are in a dorm room or dorm apartment there are grad students in charge who are supposed to guide the freshman.

        Liked by 2 people

      13. This is a dorm. But that’s besides the point. Eight kids are hanging out. It could literally be anywhere on campus. One kid says Jew instead of Jewish person. Five kids in group start yelling that he’s an anti semite. How does an RA get involved when they’re not there?

        Liked by 1 person

  4. What a timely post for society today.
    Speaking my opinion really varies on who I am around and the topic and wherher I really want to risk stirring the pot. If its a topic that I feel strongly about I will be more likely to speak up if I disagree. But as you mentioned. Do I think it will really help change their mind?
    Kind of like on FB with all the memes and posts that people put up against the vaccine or for it. Do they really think that the 500th meme they post will be the magic one that changes everyones mind??

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I also am learning to take time before reacting. It’s not always easy to do. Sometimes just a look and silence will tell the other person all they need to know about how you feel about what they said. Watching the dawning on their face can be priceless.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. My personality has always been to speak my mind. Never rudely. Never with the intention to argue. Sometimes it led to arguments but I wouldn’t back down. These days I try to keep them to myself as they can lead to outcomes that usually aren’t worth it. “Passion” for an opinion has become hateful. Divisive. Relationship ending. I’m still trying to figure out why it’s become such a damaging issue to feel differently about something. People’s emotions get so worked up. It’s sad we can’t have discussions without anger and the potential repercussions of a broken relationship.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I find myself holding my tongue around people I’m not that close to. I have a tougher time with my dad. We have agreed to not talk politics because we know we disagree. But he always throws something out there and I take the bait. It often ends in an argument.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Long ago, my grandmother suggested I just say, “Oh okay,” when someone says something I disagree with. I still haven’t learned to say this with everyone. Maybe I’ll follow your list, instead.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m not good at that either. However, I feel I need to just not engage. It doesn’t make me feel any better, and I’m not changing anyone’s mind about anything.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. This is a really difficult issues in these modern times, silence allows oppression to continue undeterred, but most of the time we are not able to change someones mind, maybe with discretion we can open it a little? It takes a lot of finesse to discern what to do as each situation is different and most likely complicated. Hugs, C

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I tend to listen and ask a lot of questions. That’s when I began to understand how experience forms and fashions our opinions, it’s the sweet spot, where we can not only understand each other but forge some change.

        Liked by 2 people

  10. I certainly hope polite discourse isn’t dead, but it seems fleeting and rare when it shouldn’t be… to me, it seems like everyone talks at each other instead of being responsive with eachother. The best discourse I initiated wasn’t to go at someone from what I saw as my high horse or morally right, though it’s easy to feel those feelings. It’s to, like you said, see why they feel that way and engage. I’ve actually seen some people move a bit on opinions by treating them with respect, and I myself have seen how people’s diverse views can change how they approach a topic in ways I never considered. Loss of polite discourse is, was, will be tragic.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This is great and very on point for our times. I was at a memorial last week and dreading it. I was sad to say goodbye, but also uncomfortable because I know I have different values and beliefs than most of the others there.
    I had a complete eye opening experience, one which I didn’t think was possible. I sat there, for an hour, discussing life with a new acquaintance. We disagreed on most things, but were both respectful and curious enough to listen to what the other had to say. I wasn’t looking to sway her opinion, I was genuinely interested and open to hearing what she had to say, and Vice versa.
    It was refreshing, and gave me hope that I’ve been missing in our society, for well over two years.
    Thank you for this message!

    Liked by 1 person

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