I Respectfully Disagree

Are we as one-humanity collectively ‘out of kilter’? Do we pay enough credence to how we relate to one another in relation to the health we individually and collectively experience? And is the next step in our evolution to bring a level of harmony to all our interactions, to seed forth a way of being in community far grander than our current model?

I recently had an experience in a group meeting where I was feeling the tension of something another was saying. A familiar feeling of unease started to arise in my body; tension caused by not agreeing with what someone else thought and was sharing. Yet I knew this was my own process of accepting the differences that can arise at any time when we are living and interacting in the world.

This, I’m sure, is a common experience where there is a strong desire for others to experience situations as we do, to relate in the same way and be in agreement with our views, for us to essentially be confirmed as right and thus justified in righteousness. When this doesn’t occur it often results in confrontation and argument, where one or both parties may go into shutdown mode, where we may silently curse another, feeling disbelief that they can’t see our point of view.

So how to respond when such feelings arise? In this example I felt it was important for me to convey what I was experiencing – what felt true for me. So I waited my turn to speak and then shared as openly as I could my viewpoint, but in this sharing I made sure I wasn’t forceful, that there was no imposition or pressing to be ‘right’ and I made it clear that this was my view, not one others had to share.

Towards the end of the meeting I could feel there was a remaining tension from the process and so I shared the view with the group that it was OK to disagree, that this was a natural process we had to go through, and that our relationships were more important than the outcome, that they were in fact part of the outcome. To maintain harmony in our relationship as a group was the key aspect of how we handle anything that arises. From this honesty, we were able to ‘respectfully disagree.’

These last two words are missing in our societies today, our tabloid style media, being a rather obvious example where points are pressed home to score hits with collateral damage, focussing derision on anyone who doesn’t fit into a predetermined social norm. It is also seen widely in social media and online forums where we hide behind our screens and aim barbs at those who dare to have a different point of view to our own – heightened by the anonymous ways we often interact.

Why such sensational outbursts? Why such anger in our confrontational manner? Where is our ability to respectfully disagree, to allow another to have their view? Have we become rather mean in our societies, unable to show allowing and understanding for differences?

And what is the harm to us and all those who experience this? What effect does this disrespect have on our bodies? Is this a poison that seeps through all who engage with it? How much simpler it is to have decency and love for one another regardless of our point of view. This for me is how we move as a society towards harmonious relationships and collective good health.

How we relate to one another is as important as any lifestyle choice. We can all choose to take that and start appreciating that we can always respectfully disagree, and that needing another to share our outlook is neither healthy nor realistic. We can give each other the grace to experience life in our own unique ways and let the truth unfold. I have been observing that truth always rises to the surface, and there can be no true learning unless I am respectful and considerate.

We can always choose to hold one another in regard, irrespective of our differing views. In the situation I shared above, I am learning to trust that the outcome will be guided by the process, one that I wish to be about openness in communication, respect for one another, and love for all.

May all our relationships move towards the level of harmony, love and truth that is our natural way.

By Stephen Gammack, Sydney, Australia

Related Reading:
The importance of expressing truth
Self-care: Expressing how you feel
How do you have communication without reaction?

598 thoughts on “I Respectfully Disagree

  1. In a way the people we look to most like our political leaders, or the heads of large companies are seriously letting us down in this area. They argue, they fight, they try to dominate the other. There is a giant opportunity for people who hold such roles to be the role models you discuss.

  2. “How we relate to one another is as important as any lifestyle choice…” This is a great point, and likely overlooked as how we live influences the way we feel, our thoughts, our conversation, our relationship with ourselves which naturally influences the quality of conversation we have with one another.

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