When someone makes a point, do you look for where you agree? Or, are you neutral; actively considering all sides? Or, do you default to disagreement?
A thought to consider: if you immediately look for points of disagreement and — even more so — if you feel compelled to voice that disagreement, there are two very important probable results to consider first:
- The chances of missing the actual point are far greater.
- You are going to lose potential or current friends, and your level (or potential level) of influence will decrease.
You might notice that last point is just the opposite of “Winning Friends and Influencing People.” And that’s no surprise.
I expect that those whose personal default setting is on “disagree and comment” are possibly thinking, “Bob, are you saying we should always agree with everyone?” My answer, of course, is “absolutely not!”
Another reflexive thought might be, “Bob, I’d rather people disagree with me so that I can learn from them rather than their simply mindlessly agreeing with me.”
So would I. And…mindless agreement isn’t at all what I am suggesting.
Opposing points of view are typically welcome by people. They help everyone learn and grow. However, I believe it is incumbent upon the responder to be sure they have first logically and critically thought through the issue.
While browsing posts on Facebook, Twitter, and other blogs, I far too often see readers’ comments that are so off point, I wonder:
- Did they actually read the post in its entirety? And,
- Are they just disagreeing for the sake of disagreeing?
Personally, I cannot even imagine commenting without first thinking about it long and hard. I realize not everyone feels the same way. However, I think it is a worthwhile guiding principle for those of us who comment on other’s posts.
May I make a suggestion: listen/read as neutrally as possible or, even better, for where you agree. If you simply don’t, first (oh, so important) FIRST reason out logically and dispassionately why, how and where you disagree. Then — and only then — decide if it will be productive for all involved to communicate your opposing view.
Wanna’ be right or want the right results? Sometimes both are possible and sometimes not.
One aspect of wisdom is knowing the difference.
Of course, you are welcome to disagree. 😉
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I have this discussion on occasion with a friend who posts a lot of quotes on facebook and very little original thought. There are a few people who pop in and say something apparently just to disagree and she welcomes engagement of any kind and they take pride and even mention being “The Devil’s Advocate”.
From the outside – if I am following the conversation, it’s on the “ew” level of opening the lid on stinky trash – it’ll go away since it’s not on my wall – but if it’s a consistent thing I’ll fist block the “DA” and long term mute the friend and just go visit when I’m up for it.
On my wall? Thoughtful debate is welcome, on the other hand is welcome, have you considered this and that is welcome. Trollishness? NO.
I had to read Angie’s post carefully too… understanding that there is a high value (or should be) on thinking from different perspectives is something it’s easy to miss when there are so many thoughtless “drive by” postings and automated comments to filter through, positive and negative. Insights on personality in the follow up made coming back for comment review even better.
Bob you have the smartest and nicest people engaging with you!
I would most definitely disagree with you…if in fact I disagreed. However, you’ve once again nailed the bottom line concept here when you say “Wanna’ be right or want the right results?” The need to be right drives too many people and I know from personal experience – having both been guilty of this AND being subjected to it – that it is a flawed stance.
The phrase that comes to my mind is “contempt prior to investigation”. Deciding what the answer is or should be before listening and evaluating with an open mind can only cause mistaken interpretations, cause agitation and/or limit that person in regards to truly learning and growing.
Knowing the difference between being right vs. wanting the right results is wise in most any situation.
Thank you, Bill. As always, your responses contain gems of wisdom!
My friends know that I am a thoughtful person and I take a lot of what is said on-line at face-value and to the heart. They also know that I used to debate competitively in high school and have learned how to argue the opposing view because I have been trained to do so and enjoy exercising my mind. This part of my personality often gets me into either:
A. A lot of trouble (I accept this risk) or
B. A healthy discussion that others appreciate
I say things like, “I can appreciate what you said or can I offer an alternative point of view or have you thought about it way . . . to soften my comments so not to appear to be agrumentative without cause.
In the world of social media, it’s so much harder to come across sincere, especially when communication is text based. It’s also harder to convey tone. I often see people react to a heading and not the entire article, which sometimes causes confusion in the on-line world. It happens and the most important thing to remember is to remain level-headed. Offer value when you can and be tactful in your responses.
Thank you for this thought-ful post, and I mean that literally! Such a healthy reminder, especially as information moves faster and faster. It’s far too easy to scan, comment and hit send without adding real value to the discussion.
Love the process you have offered here! Marvelous steps to monitor our “default” setting to make sure it isn’t stuck on disagree.
Great post and as always enjoying the comments too!
Kathryn: Thank you. I love everything you said!
Dondi: Thank you. And, thank you for your awesome and positive inspiration regarding this post, and so much of what I write!
So true. I think it describes a healthy percentage of the population. I hope they read this!
Hi Angie, when I first read your comment I thought that you were saying that you debate a posting just for the sake of debating it. However, upon re-reading your letter, I believe I read it incorrectly.
Your third paragraph, in which you tactfully make your points when you present an opposing view is excellent. In terms of your fourth paragraph, yes, it’s a bit more difficult only because it is words only and no sound or visual, but with thought and effort it can, in my opinion, be done. Regarding your comment about people reacting to a headline rather than the entire article, I agree. Again, thank you for commenting and sharing with us.
🙂 Thank you Meghan!
I absolutely agree with you Bob! It amazes me while networking those who seem to complain and disagree are the one struggling and certainly lack influence.
Bob, I once knew a guy once who’s spirit was generally negative. He often disagreed for the sake of disagreeing. He wasn’t someone I wanted to be around. To be completely honest with you, I monitor myself. I am overall a positive person and don’t like confrontation of any kind, which is why I ask for permission to disagree in most cases. The part where you explained that an individual like myself, someone who looks immediately for ways or reasons to disagree, might be missing the point gave me reason to pause. I never gave thought to the fact that my natural tendency could be counter-productive in winning friends. You certainly gave me food for thought for this evening.
Steve, thanks for sharing your thoughts with us!
Angie, thank you for your comment. That’s very kind of you. You may have noticed that I deleted my first response to you, as I think I misunderstood what you were saying (hmm, quite the irony? LOL). In re-reading your original comment soon after I posted my response, I realized that I misinterpreted it as though you were saying you enjoy disagreeing for the sake of disagreeing. But in re-reading it, I think I was wrong. If that *is* a tendency of yours, It speaks volumes about you (in a very positive way) that you volunteered that. It was indeed a tendency of mine in my earlier years that once I overcame made me a lot more effective. Benjamin Franklin wrote the same thing about himself in his famous Autobiography. It tells me that – with all of us, the key is not what we’ve done/been but what/who we aspire to be…a more effective version of our authentic selves.
Kathryn, thank you. I agree with you, yes. Sometimes we need to filter through the “drive-by’s” in order to get to the good stuff. :-). And, yes…I agree that we have awesome readers/commenters within our blog family. That includes, you, my friend!
Meant to read this yesterday! Thanks for sending another tweet about it!
I wish I could say that I am not usually at fault here, but unfortunately-this is me too often. Of course, I always tell myself that I am just reading and/or listening “critically” – as in thoughtful. However, the reality is that I tend to play “devil’s advocate” far too often.
Thank you for tackling a tough and sensitive subject-I believe I have benefited, but hopefully this post will be more of a benefit to those around me!
I so enjoyed reading this post it had so many valuable lesson to learn from.
Hi Davetta, thank you. I greatly appreciate that!
Steve, it’s great that it is something you see in yourself. Many people would not be able to do that. I congratulate you! Thank you for sharing with us.
Great post Bob! I don’t think I intentionally want to disagree with people when I hear them present a point but I seem to ask a lot of questions in order to figure out if everything has been thought through. I think people often see that as disagreeing because I didn’t agree immediately. I don’t see myself as overly analytical but I have made rush decisions in the past that cause me to ask more questions up front before I give a response. Maybe there is a better way for me to ask these questions so I don’t seem like I am disagreeing, just verifying.
Christie, in all the time I’ve known you, I’ve never experienced you asking anything other than very intelligent, well-thought-out questions, and always from a side of positivity and encouragement. Of course, it’s the people like you who are so thoughtful…who seem to question themselves the most. 🙂
This post grabbed my attention and made me think. I like the topic of people skills, but many times I find myself erring on the side of “disagreeing,” many times automatically. In don’t like this part of me. I asked myself, “Why do I (and others like me) do this when we know this is not the best use of our people skills? To help answer that question, I believe there is an internal something that needs to be identified first. I know “what” to do and “how” to act, but “why” don’t I do it? Perhaps we do it (sometimes, not all the time) because of some inner turmoil going on in our lives. Maybe we’re frustrated at the moment, discouraged because we’re not doing as well as we think we should, or (put your own reason here). My solution: I’m going to stop reacting to people so much, and instead, start responding to life by reminding myself that I’m part of something bigger than myself, and that “something bigger” includes people! Thanks for the post Bob… you’re one of the best “people persons” I know.
Hi Pastor Jim. It’s interesting, your being a Pastor, you are probably more likely to be challenged by someone that way than doing it yourself. But, I also know you well enough to know that you are always working on improving yourself and upping your game. By the way, congrats on your book; I hope it is selling well and touching a lot of lives.
I always appreciate your encouragement and support…thank you 🙂
This is something I have a lot of difficulty with, and because I know I have difficulty with it, I usually think things through for too long. And the opportunity for a nice disagreement is gone.
Anyway, thank you for another thought-provoking conversation 🙂
Pamela, again, difficult for me to imagine that being the case with you. Everything I’ve ever heard from you is so well-thought-out.