Teachers at work. The boys at play. "No! I want the stick!"

Teachers at work. The boys at play. "No! I want the stick!"

Whether we are willing to admit it to ourselves or not, isn’t a disagreement actually about questioning how someone else could be so ignorant, uniformed, inexperienced or naïve to see something different than we do?  Patrece on behalf of P-Systems, an independent 501(c-3) non-profit corporation (PS 52 The New Experiment, Series 8, Week 18)

Bingo!  I’ve been sitting with a question about relationships: wondering how it is that I (and we humans) bristle in reaction to a particular behavior from one person, but hardly notice that same behavior in another.  Why am I disagreeable in reacting to Sally and more gracious toward Judy when each has done basically the same thing?  More importantly, how can I do/be the later; that is, disagree without being disagreeable?

This seems to be an important distinction and behavior to master.  I certainly see how it can positively impact my life, not to mention those whose paths I cross.  I doubt that anyone enjoys being treated ungraciously. I don’t. And yet, I sometimes lash out with harsh words or a harsh tone.  This is followed by a sense of unease, dissatisfaction, and disappointment from me to me.

As I reflected on a recent situation in which I found myself being disagreeable, I remembered a similar experience a few weeks back with another person in which I didn’t find myself annoyed even though we each had different approaches. Throughout that experience, I was at ease and gracious, able to make requests and negotiate a way forward.  What, I wondered, is the difference?

Then, my weekly installment from Patrece at P-Systems landed in my in-box (divine right timing, yes!).   When I read the quote above, I began to understand.  

When I engage in a disagreement from the perspective that the other is not as smart, informed, or experienced as me, then the respect needed to disagree graciously is missing.  It’s humbling to be reminded that we each experience life in our own unique ways. Each of us has past and present challenges that form our unique way of navigating life. We mesh well with some folks, not so much with others. With each and every one, “a little RESPECT” (thank you Aretha!) goes a long way.

Looking beyond our own small circles of life, we see examples daily in the conduct of public life and running for public office (and that, perhaps, is a topic for another day).  Imagine what a dash of sincere respect could bring to that arena.

R E S P E C T, the missing ingredient in disagreeing without being disagreeable

   The labyrinth ... a place for quiet reflection and peace.

The labyrinth ... a place for quiet reflection and peace.

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