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Re: Agree to disagree

Posted by R. Berg on June 10, 2001

In Reply to: Re: Agree to disagree posted by patti on June 09, 2001

: : : : berg, please elucidate "agree to disagree." how should it be perceived?

: : : It involves good manners and respect for another person's opinion. One disagrees with another but doesn't get low-down and dirty. Debating without engaging in personal slurs. I had a college roommate that would say, "That's stupid," when disagreeing with another. A professor told her to say, "I beg to differ."

: : I would add that I think of "agreeing to disagree" as something that, by definition, both parties do, and it comes late in a discussion or relationship--late enough that neither wants to break off dealings entirely, they've found an area of disagreement where each has tried to convince the other, and they recognize that these efforts won't work. They set aside an irreconcilable difference to maintain a civil dialogue.

: many thanks for replying to my post, not berg and real berg! anyway, would I be off the track when it's also used in a negative way? for instance, a person might want to cop out of an argument by saying "i guess we have to agree to disagree" even though another person has evidence to prove an argument?

Somebody might say that, and it would indeed be what I call a copout, if the person knows he or she is wrong and is trying to save face. A more honest response would be "You're right." But sometimes "Let's agree to disagree" is a nice way of dealing with somebody you're sure is wrong. (It's nicer than "That's stupid.") A problem here: People don't always agree on what constitutes proof. The evidence might convince A but not B, so after hearing all the evidence B decides that agreeing to disagree is the best choice. An observer, C, might side with A and think B is copping out, when B is really right and the evidence isn't truly convincing.

Maybe we'll hear from Not Berg on this question too. She might beg to differ.