Agree to Disagree

How do you deal with “agreeing to disagree” when the person you’re “agreeing” with still holds your position in utter contempt?

I try very hard not to be hurt or bitter when people reject my beliefs. And it’s better to walk away with a simple “agree to disagree” than to end in a damaging debate. Right?

I want to leave debates respectfully, saying: “I now know what you mean when you say you’re [insert label], as opposed to what my assumption was. I don’t agree with you that your position is correct, but I understand that you are intelligent, you’ve done your research. And I can respect you for that. I can respect your conclusion and worldview as well, because it is clear that there are convincing arguments in your favor. I just happen to be more convinced by other arguments.”

But why is it that when people say they “agree to disagree,” they so often mean “I think you’re an ignorant person with a stupid worldview that I’ve read critiques of. And by the way, I hate your position. But I don’t want to argue any more, so let’s just agree to disagree.”

And what then is the proper response? Do you say, “Wait, I want to agree to disagree, but only if you at least stop hating my worldview?” Probably not.

So do you just agree? I guess. Agreeing in a kind and understanding way is probably better than getting into a fist fight (or whatever the equivalent is over social media). Maybe that’s the way to go – if you can’t earn their respect you should at least deserve it. Right?

I think that’s right. But man, is it ever unsatisfying.


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