Respectful disagreement is agreeing to disagree and walking away with a better understanding of the other person’s perspective as well as our own.
Sometimes in the name of respectful disagreement, we don’t really hear each other but instead rush to close down the discussion once we see we have different views and just “agree to disagree.”
Other times, we are indeed listening but only to prepare our counter argument to convince the other person of our point of view. I have experienced this both mildly and to the extreme, where it feels like a relentless barrage of questions aimed at understanding me to convince me otherwise. Has anyone else ever felt this?
It can even be the most well-intentioned people and or those closest to us, who truly want to understand why we think or feel differently, but they simply have a hard time accepting that we just have a different perspective.
One of my hopes for our world is that we can communicate our differences respectfully, not by some of us keeping quiet and listening but by all of us speaking up and being allowed to have a different view. If we are truly listening and absorbing the information we receive, hopefully we walk away with a better understanding of each other.
And, even someone with a minority view in a given situation can be too intent on convincing rather than absorbing and considering the other perspective.
In a workplace context, this can stem from the desire or need to get consensus on a matter. Trying to force a consensus can be a form of bullying if a person is repeatedly asked to explain their views. In those cases, it is more than okay to dissent – to go along with what the majority wants but still officially note our disagreement with it. For me, a compromise is always ideal, but not always practical.
And who knows . . . we might just start to think differently too.