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Psychology Explains Why It’s Ok to Agree to Disagree


We live in a growing pluralistic society made up of people from a wide range of social, religious and cultural backgrounds. They bring their different values, practices, and beliefs to work, school, and neighborhoods. Disagreements are inevitable, however, it is possible to respect someone else’s beliefs even if you disagree with them. It’s okay to disagree.

What are you doing agree to disagree to mean?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary says that agreeing to disagree means “agreeing not to discuss a difference of opinion.” It means that you may have a different opinion than the other person, but accept the fact that you probably won’t change your mind and you probably won’t. Basically, you agree not to argue about it and move on. You do not have to give up your opinion and the other person has the right to have a different opinion.

Is tolerance good or bad?

You may have heard that you need to tolerate those who are different from you. This is true on one level, but there may be some negatives to tolerance.

Tolerance is, in a sense, the ability to endure something that seems unacceptable to you. In a society with people who practice different religious and cultural beliefs that differ in practices and convictions, tolerance can reduce conflict between these various groups. Furthermore, tolerance can be a barrier to protecting the freedoms and rights of citizens so that they can live with their own beliefs.

But tolerance is not a good thing for everyone, and some studies Suggest that mere tolerance for someone is not necessarily good. Those who disagree say that tolerance is a social vehicle that contributes to domination and inequality in society. It is condescending and a poor substitute for real appreciation and respect.

Are disagreements healthy?

A society without disagreements is a weak society. It lacks true freedom of thought and ideas. The give and take of ideas indicates intellectual curiosity. When someone respectfully disagrees with you, it forces you to try to understand their perspective. Some of the best friendships are forged by disagreement between two people who respect each other enough to disagree. They are not threatened by disagreement and can have deep conversations about what they believe without fear of rejection.

How do you respectfully agree to disagree?

1 – People matter

Remember, people are more important than being right, so give the other person the benefit of the doubt. See them and yourself accurately. Remember that no human is 100% right. Your views may be skewed and the other person’s view may be skewed, making the playing field very level. Show them respect and kindness, even if you disagree with them.

2 – Words matter

According to the American Psychological Association, “Words matter.” State your arguments in a non-intimidating way. Ask questions. Don’t dominate the conversation. Repeat what you think you heard, saying something like:

“I think I heard you say________. Could you explain a little more what you mean?

Choose inclusive words like “we” or “me” instead of “you.” This may seem like you are lecturing the person. Above all, be kind and humble and let your words show these qualities.

3 – Find common ground

Rick Hanson, Ph.D., explains that finding common ground is vital to resolving differences.

There is always some level of common ground where you can both agree on most disagreements, big or small. Highlight what you agree to to make sure the other person doesn’t feel like you’re against them. Establishing a basis for what you agree with will give you both the freedom to discuss where you disagree without fear of damaging the relationship. Be sure to suggest that you talk about this at another time because this keeps the dialogue going and could help you resolve the disagreement in the future.

4 – Do not apologize for your beliefs

Don’t apologize for having a different opinion than other people. That is the beauty of freedom and disagreement. Don’t feel guilty if you don’t agree. This can be difficult, especially if you admire the person and feel like you must agree with them. Don’t say “I’m sorry, I don’t agree with you” because it’s okay to have a different opinion.

5 – Be a good listener

Make sure you listen with your eyes, ears, and mouth when the other person is speaking. It’s easy to think about what you want to say next when you disagree and miss what the person is really saying. Listening well It shows them that you respect them and want to learn from them. Ask good questions, especially if you don’t understand what they are saying. Questions you might ask include:

  • What do you think you want me to understand about this that we disagree on?
  • How does your belief affect your way of life? Why?
  • Can you explain your conviction about _______ more?
  • What would you like me to know more about your feelings about_______?
  • What do you think we could agree on?
  • What do you think we particularly disagree with?
  • How could you be a better listener right now?

At the end of the disagreement, ask them if something they did or said made them feel disrespected. If you strive to be a good listener and a good learner, people will feel safe with you and that you really value their opinions and beliefs even though they know you disagree with them.

When is it not okay to agree to disagree?

Sometimes you must decide that you cannot agree to disagree for a variety of reasons. You never want to accept something that goes against your conscience or asks you to do something illegal or immoral. These are just some of the reasons why it is not okay to disagree.

1 – To close all conversations

There is nothing worse than being in the middle of a disagreement, and one person stands up and says, “Okay, I agree to disagree!” This is a manipulative make and close the conversation. Agreeing to disagree should be mutual with both parties. If this happens, you should not allow the person to manipulate you in another conversation where they can do it again. Good opportunity, they do not care to understand what you believe and, instead of saying it humbly, they leave.

2 – To avoid conflicts

A study published by the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, through the National Institute of Health, suggests that the suppression of emotions can have physical consequences.

It’s easy to want to keep the peace and never disagree with anyone, but this is not always helpful. Avoiding confrontation can lead to not having a deep relationship. If you agree to disagree with avoiding conflict all the time but never get to the real issues that both of you have, it’s basically about sticking your head in the sand and hoping the disagreement will be resolved without any effort on your part.

It is best to sit down with the person and discuss the issues in question. Try to figure out what you can and can’t. You will have to leave for a later date if they are willing.

3 – It is not an excuse for abuse

If the person wants you to agree to disagree on a moral issue, something illegal, or an issue of abuse, you should refuse to accept it. Respecting their points of view does not mean that you accept their bad behavior. It may be good to distance yourself from this person if they ask. If you believe that someone is in danger due to the actions of this person, you should report it to the police.

Final thoughts on knowing that it’s okay to agree to disagree

Disagreeing with someone can be intimidating at first. But if you are sure of your beliefs and convictions, it becomes easier. Make sure you feel comfortable discussing things with people in a respectful way. Learn to be a good listener and to ask good questions. Disagreements can be healthy for relationships because they teach us what other people believe and think. We can grow and learn in these conversations.

Use respectful words and ask questions when talking to someone. Find common ground and remember that you may not see everything as clearly as you think. Give the other person the benefit of the doubt. We all have our shortcomings and bad days, so be nice and gentle even if you have strong convictions. Never say you are sorry for what you believe.

If the person attacks you or leaves the conversation, it may be time to find a new friend or partner. Disagreements reveal a person’s true character. Be open to agreeing to disagree on some issues, but be sure to keep the dialogue going because you may change your mind later.


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