64 Please disagree
Today’s title is a
special request. The article explains how to carry it out. The
jovial expression in the staged photo communicates something
other than despair. That lighthearted view of disagreement is
quite different from serious conflict.
High-energy union in competition
A sportsmanlike contest
is cooperation. The 1949 movie Adam’s Rib stars Spencer Tracy and
Katharine Hepburn as a married couple whose love includes
fighting fiercely in the courtroom or on the political stage.
Athletes compete vigorously while understanding that their
performance will bring out the best in the other party. The
benefits are understood by and accrue to both sides.
Low-energy difference sharing
There exists cooperative
disagreement, illustrated by the nursery rhyme about the
preferences in the married couple in which one ate the fat and
the other ate the lean. There is no energetic opposition taking
place; the non-competitive difference results in mutually
No-energy neutral difference
There is another kind of
low-energy disagreement in which parties have no purpose to
compete against each other. One spouse may find a particular work
of art to be offensively grotesque while the other spouse may
find its novelty to be challenging. The difference is serious but
there is no need to resolve a dispute. The common ground is not
competition but is rather the willingness to be
The next level of
difference involves a desire to prevail. In the first instance
above, the parties know they are helping each other grow
stronger. The difference is impersonal. This instance looks like
gentleness and civility, but parties wish that the other side
would fold and melt away. Instead of being an agreed exercise,
the intentional difference becomes a power contest.
Injurious difference is a
mean spirited disagreement based on a contrary will devoid of
collaboration. It is never an appropriate fulfillment of today’s
opening request to disagree.
The five steps are a
progression in which energy goes down in the middle and up on the
ends while the sense of cooperation descends throughout the list.
Benefits go down as each step involves less agreement than
the step above it.
Here are examples that
distinguish agreement from disagreement. They reach the important
question: why should you disagree? It ends on a strong
have same opinion
I agree it is yellow.
It appears otherwise to me.
approve an intention
I let you do it.
I’m not in favor of the action by you.
join an intention
I agree to do it with you.
I won’t join you in doing it.
I need support for this.
Never mind action, it’s just a bad idea.
So why disagree?
Why would today’s title invite
disagreement? The chart above refines what we mean by
disagreeing. All of the options describe noncombative attitudes.
In a healthy relationship, parties are not threatened by
circumstances like these. If such differences cannot be endured,
we know that someone needs bolstering. In contrast, I am showing
my confidence if I do not need your agreement to hold an
Pursuing this mental health is most
Articles 39-42 outlined steps for dealing with differences.
Article 57 urged tolerance so that differences do not become
stumbling blocks. Today we expand
Article 46 in explaining why difference is essential
If you disagree with me, the first
suggestion is that you know something I do not know. Listening
helps me learn.
If each of us sees a question
differently, we both acquire more options. Indeed, each of us
brings a unique set of experiences to the table, and additional
viewpoints raise additional possibilities. We become unstuck from
our familiar ruts.
We have previously dismissed motivations
of control and dominance. We have developed the pluralism that
thrives on variety and provides diverse inputs. We value every
Welcoming difference is not
welcoming naysayers. We understand that difference is not
beneficial when it is obstructive. Instead of building roadblocks
across travel lanes, we are consciously welcoming differences
that increase the number of lanes.
Being For Others Blog copyright © 2020 Kent Busse
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