posted on Nov, 26 2013 @ 02:58 PM
Disagreement is an essential component of a healthy relationship, a healthy workplace, and a healthy democracy. Much research documents the
dangers of surrounding ourselves with so-called “yes men” who always concur. Workplace echo chambers stifle innovation and reify bad policy
decisions. Disagreement stimulates creative thinking and prompts innovation.
Yet, there is indeed a peaceful, even collaborative, way to disagree. And, I contend, that it never involves personal insults, ad hominem attacks, and
strings of epithets and curse words.
Unfortunately, it seems as though few in the U.S are taught how to disagree peacefully and constructively. Instead, if we read, hear or see something
that bothers us, we tend to get all pissy about it and, rather than present our case, resort to the lowest blows we can. This behavior is, of course,
modeled at nearly every turn.
My recent experience authoring op-eds illustrates the issue perfectly. I authored a piece about the bureaucratic stifling of activism. In the
op-ed, I encouraged folks who disagree with my positions to share their viewpoints, as dialogue and disagreement can lead to amazingly creative social
change from the synthesis of the best parts of different arguments. While I did receive some pleasant feedback, I also
received one very disturbing piece of hate email.
Not only did this anonymous emailer attack me personally, using hateful slurs, but s/he also failed to see the point I was making
, which was precisely that we should not all agree but should not stifle those who do not see things our way.
I found this a pretty good article and about a topic that bears repeated attention. That you can disagree with a concept, an idea, even and action
taken. That arguments are not fights to the death but venues for collaboration and learning.
ATS needs to be reminded of this often.
I fully acknowledge that I need more practise with cilvilized argument. Truthfully sometimes it just feels good to call somebody as SOB.
A couple of steps that I use to maintain a detached dialogue with those I disagree with are:
1: Always stop to talk a deep breath and reread.
2: If I don't understand what's being said (rather then what I think their words mean) ask questions.
3: Find something that I can agree with to start.
How do you keep your cool, keep an open mind, and deal with immaturity??