How can Disagreement be Positive?

Confrontation can feel like an attack on the things we believe in. Disagreement often surrounds the ideas that we find the most important, so challenges can feel particularly personal. Finding a ‘middle way’ to resolve issues provides a method of dealing with situations in which not everybody agrees. This ability to compromise effectively (to change our views/actions to prevent confrontation) forms the foundation of stable relationships.


People disagree over many issues. Disagreement may include children arguing over a game, neighbours arguing over who owns land, or groups disagreeing over complex, philosophical questions, like whether a God exists. Disagreement exists simply because people and their backgrounds are very different and their ideas vary.


Disagreement can be dealt with in many ways. In the past arguments were typically resolved by elders, chiefs and family heads. However, disagreement can also be resolved by individuals who speak reasonably with the other person/persons involved. Showing a willingness to talk and openly negotiate can be enough to prevent the escalation of an issue.   Potentially the best way of dealing with an argument is to compromise. The example below illustrates why this might be the case.


Two men live on either side of a lake. They disagree on how to use its resources. One of the men is worried that the supply of fish is shrinking because the other man invites people there to fish for a small sum of money. They discuss the issue. They agree to a fishing quota. This is larger than the man concerned for the wildlife would like, and smaller than the man who gains money from fishing would like. However, it is better than the first man being allowed to fish all the fish, or none of them. This is an example of peaceful living that will influence other members of the society. While it may seem idealistic (too optimistic), development often stems from contention (disagreement).


When someone disagrees with us we should control our emotions, try not to feel personally attacked and present our ideas in a way that is factual and neutral. Sometimes resolution can take a long time, but it is worth persevering. You may eventually notice a change in the way your partner, family or society interacts. Working together, rather than against each other is nearly always good!

Marwin Ramos


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