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?

482 thoughts on “I Respectfully Disagree

  1. Despite some very well-meaning and passionate, caring people, our current models of society are built on the foundation of our past. Changes seem to come from the same thinking that seeded the problems in the first place. It seems like we need to come to a stop, take lots of steps back and see it with fresh eyes. In that we need to take a close look at ourselves, as we are the starting point to what becomes ‘society’.

  2. It is interesting to ponder the difference between tolerating another’s differences of opinion and bringing more understanding to that difference of opinion.

  3. I love this blog, it feels so confirming that we really don’t need to lock horns so much in life, just know what we feel, hold it and without confrontation we can in the main just get on with living our own knowing around those who have for now at least a different view.

  4. When we know there is no right or wrong, we don’t have to convince anyone of our opinion and can respectfully agree to disagree, knowing we are all where we need to be to evolve at our own pace.

  5. Yes I agree that if we simply and honestly express what we feel is true for us without need to be right or for someone else to agree then we are leaving people to be free and not imposed on. If we all did this then eventually the unified truth will come to the surface as a way forward for all.

  6. Whenever people complain and dramatise about trivial things, I always remember just where our society is at in terms of health and sanity. And it amazes me how we can distract ourselves from that massive picture just for the tiniest little thing that doesn’t fit our picture.

  7. When our bodies understand how our deepening connection brings more awareness then we learn that in life we can be in Humble-Appreciate-ive-ness of who we are and thus responding to every situation with-out any judgement on our-self or others becomes normal.

  8. I wonder if we have been out of kilter for a long time.

    For example, of those who are 50-55 years old in the US, some 80% have been either obese or smoking or both either in the past or now and this number has been stable in the 1970s. In the past it was more people smoking, now it is more people being obese but to me both are highly damaging actions against ourselves – engaged in by 80%! of the population.

  9. A different viewpoint is frequently attacked. There is no acceptance of others points of view or a Normal point of view so to speak, because that questions whether we have foolishly accepted things rather than allowing ourselves to venture deeper, to be more love and share more intimacy.

  10. When I hear or read about what stresses nurses out, it often isn’t the patients or the workload. It’s the relationships with the other nurses that is the greatest stress in the workplace. This is what makes many nurses want to leave the profession, go part time or work nights, or have to drag themselves to work. So, the connection between wellbeing and relationships is very clear and known (perhaps unconsciously) by us all. We don’t mind working hard when there is support and care for each other.

  11. There is so much opportunity to develop and deepen our understanding of anything when we are willing to accept that others may have a different view to the ones we have.

  12. When we get ourselves out of the way and work for a common purpose, we each have a different angle of the same one truth to bring to a situation and that is a delight.

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