Recently I had a lengthy exchange on Facebook with others about an opinion I shared. Some agreed with me, others did not.
What struck me was not how differently some people feel about things than I do (no great surprise), but rather how it seems like somewhere along the way it has become the norm to simply ‘eliminate’ those who disagree with us from our lives.
There is a way to disagree with others and be respectful. There is a way to not only have but also to justify your feelings/thoughts/opinions on things while taking away nothing from anyone else…..
It involves, for me, a few caveats placed at the beginning of your statement:
1. In my opinion……
2. What works for me is…..
3. What I believe for myself is……
4. The way I see it………
5. I can only speak for myself, but…….
I am sure there are hundreds of other ways to say the same thing….to say ‘This is my opinion…I own it, I believe in it, and I live by it’…….and still not discredit or disparage the opinion of others.
There are ways to avoid inflammatory exchanges and insulting others…….it involves avoiding saying things like:
1. How can any intelligent person think that?
2. Any educated person will agree that…..
3. I thought you were smarter than that…..
By avoiding the above, and the likely hundreds of other ways you can call a person unintelligent, ill-informed, and outright stupid without ‘saying’ it directly…..you also stand a far greater chance of avoiding getting into personal attacks and pissing contests with others.
We all have our opinions. We all have our experiences, our histories, our triggers, or deeply rooted beliefs and values. We all have them…..it doesn’t make you right and someone else wrong…it makes you right for you….for your life…..
It also doesn’t mean you can’t be friends with someone who disagrees with you. I’ve ‘unfriended’ only three people on Facebook in the six years since I signed up. Three. All three were being beyond inappropriate to me personally…..and that I won’t read or tolerate…so I took them out of my friends list….they weren’t friends I wanted to have if they felt it was okay to say the things they were saying.
But just because someone doesn’t feel the way I feel about something, or think the way I think about something? I won’t ‘unfriend’ those people. I may not agree with them….but I do learn something from their viewpoints and opinions and experiences.
More than that….I don’t just ‘agree to disagree’ with people….I respect them and their opinion…..because it’s theirs. It doesn’t have to be mine. I might never agree with them on certain points….so what? Do we have to agree with everything about someone to be friends with them?
I can only speak for myself, but………..for me the answer is no.