ArLyne's Diamonds

A running commentary of ideas

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Can we disagree without destroying relationships?

Why is it that people don't separate the disagreement from the person? It seems to me that it is perfectly OK to have different opinions, and to express them, without having to discontinue relationships. For me, someone has to betray me, hurt me deeply repeatedly - or deliberately, and/or behave very immorally before I write them off.

I remember back in the old Ayn Rand days, people were "excommunicated" merely for disagreeing. I didn't agree with that practice then - and I don't agree with it now.

People of goodwill, honor and integrity can - and do - disagree. So why can't we?

How voring life would be if everyone agreed with everything.

I think it is important to voice your opinion about important things. Currently, my townhouse association is revising the CC&Rs - and I don't think they are going about it correctly. They are trying to get us to voite on a number of controversial issues, without allowing us to see them in advance and to decide issue by issue. I think they made a number of serious mistakes because they are heavily influenced by someone I regard as giving them very bad advice. Because I sent an e-mail out to the members of the complex,for whom I have an e-mail, members of the board are no longer talking to me. Indeed, they are now shunning me!

Doesn't this remind you of Junior High School - when girls took sides based on who they liked, not what they believed?

When I train boards, teams, committees, etc., I always talk about the importance of separating issues from people - and the importance of being able to disagree without insulting. If we all "go along to get along" the evil bullies of this world will indeed take over.


  • At 6:27 AM, Anonymous Bernie Silver said…

    I agree it pays to speak up when we disagree with an individual, organization or institution, and I believed in the Rand days and even more strongly now that it's foolish to cut friends and acquaintances, let alone relatives, loose because they've disagreed with you. But you've raised an interesting, and important, issue: how to disagree with others, especially when you feel very strongly about the matter over which you disagree. I don't know what it's like in libertarian circles today, but back in the day we clobbered the opposition, because after all they were morally bankrupt. Surprisingly, we didn't win many people over with this strategy. Now that I'm a semi-adult and realize the silliness of such a policy, I still feel that disagreeing with anyone over anything that matters to one's self and to them is a fine art requiring not only presenting one's case cogently and forcefully, but keeping in mind that other people's opinions are just as dear to them as yours are to you, and that even a well-reasoned, compelling case to the contrary of theirs may not immediately—or ever, for that matter—pry them away from their cherished beliefs. The trick, I believe, is knowing how to present one's case respectfully and when to withdraw—gracefully, one hopes. Oh yes, and to have the courage to consider the possibility that one is wrong.

  • At 3:13 PM, Anonymous bob solomon said…

    i think that this item has been over intellectualized by both of you......i have just had the loudest and most important argument with my older son who is 42.....i cursed and screamed as i have never done before....the truth is that he was wrong and i was right...afterward he commented that he had never seen me like that.....i answered that if he saw his son running toward a cliff would he whisper and be gentile???...i think that this aspect was left out of your comments...where is the emotion????

  • At 4:36 PM, Blogger ArLyne Diamond, Ph.D. said…

    Of course the emotion counts. But even quietly reasoned and expressed disagreements often result in people no longer speaking to you, just because they disagree.


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