Norton: We can agree to disagree and still find balance in our relationships (column)
Sometimes it could seem like there are more things happening around us that are dividing us as a community than uniting us. And as that is happening, I believe we may have lost sight, or forgotten, that it is OK to agree to disagree when we have a difference of opinion and to do so reasonably and peacefully.
This past week, I found myself on the receiving end of a negative comment made by one of my own staff to their manager about me regarding something I had said out loud more than a year ago. My team member never said anything to me, so I had no way of knowing that I could have said anything that they would have found so offensive.
One of the best practices I subscribe to is taking things head on. So the next morning, I came to the office and invited my team member to join me in my office before they started their day and I started mine. As we sat down, I shared why I had invited them in and what I wanted to talk about. Without hesitation, it was made clear that they did overhear something I said and that it offended them greatly. My first response back was not a defensive statement or justification of what I had apparently said; instead, I asked two questions.
The first question was this, “Do you believe someone can manage a situation that they do not know existed?” Their answer was “No.” The second question was then, “Do you believe it is OK for two people to have different opinions on any subject and agree to disagree?” This time the response was, “Yes.”
We could have a difference of opinion in politics, religion, business practices, money management, how we raise our children, sports, the type of food we enjoy or where we like to go on vacation and so many other things. And that is OK. Some are more passionate about their beliefs and take a much firmer stance than others, and that could be where the problem is, as they try to force their belief system on someone else.
It seems especially easy for a social and political issue to serve as a lightning rod for an argument, as was the case with my team member. They had overheard a comment I made regarding my stance on the NFL players who were taking a knee during the national anthem. They had a completely different opinion than mine, and they were extremely passionate about their belief.
Again, that is OK, as long as we can reasonably and peacefully and openly debate or talk about where we stand. We can agree to disagree and still be co-workers, friends and family, as we know that even within our own families we could have extreme differences of opinion when it comes to certain topics.
We cannot manage what we do not know. So, if there is something bothering you that someone else has said or done, then I would encourage you to go directly to that person, set a good agreement about what you would like to discuss and agree upfront that it is OK to agree to disagree and still be co-workers, friends or family. We must find that balance in agreeing to disagree so that we can minimize the intensity of the divide that is separating us instead of uniting us at work, at home and in our community.
So how about you? Do you believe that your views and opinions are the only ones that count, or are you open to having a healthy, safe and open discussion to hear all sides of a topic that is being debated? As always, I would love to hear your story at firstname.lastname@example.org, and when we can find the balance in agreeing to disagree, it really will be a better-than-good week.
Michael Norton is the president of the Zig Ziglar Corporate Training Solutions Team, a strategic consultant, business and personal coach and motivational speaker. He writes a weekly motivational column for the Vail Daily.
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