How to Disagree

Creating space for disagreement is how we give diversity room to grow. In this movement many wonderful things are created by people working together, so knowing how to disagree can come in handy. We all have doubts, reservations and different opinions, so that isn’t news. In fact, I sometimes disagree and argue with myself!

In a top-down world, however, disagreement can be seen as disloyalty. Or negativism, or not being a team player. But if I can’t say “no,” then my “yes,” has no meaning. We will only let go of those doubts to which we have given voice. Once my opinion is made public and appreciated I can choose to keep it or change it, since I own the feeling rather than keeping it under wraps.

But appreciating disagreement- that’s the hard part. The person in charge doesn’t need to address everyone’s concerns. None of us do. Dissent is complete simply in having been expressed. So here are a few tips for authentic disagreeing:

1. Be honest. If you believe there is a problem are you acting as though the present situation is good enough?

2. Be respectful. Check to see if you are simply reacting to not being in control.

3. Be helpful. Resignation is just a passive form of control that alienates others.

And if you are the one listening, simply focus on that- listening. If you feel the need to defend yourself by answering someone’s doubts, then the space for disagreement closes down. Of course, if you can genuinely answer a question the resolves a difference, then do so. Most of the time, however, doubts are well founded and have no easy answer. Resist the urge to take it personally; the future doesn’t die from opposition, it disappears in the face of lip service.