Agreeing to Disagree
Part 1/6 of How to Creatively Get Your Way in a Disagreement
Creativity is Key to Handling Difficult Conversations
The access to constant live news and communication via social media and other technologies, has
bombarded us with topics demanding to be discussed, or argued. Adding to this is the angst that
appears in our own personal space, where conflicting beliefs-possibly issues of conflict with the same
people, arguments over the same subject, or new and developing issues- puts pins and needles in
our stomachs and burdens on our shoulders. Where there is no resolution in sight and with the
potential for those issues to continue to escalate, fine tuning communication skills and developing
healthy boundaries is a must.
Help is definitely available and there is no better way of getting your own way with someone than by
creatively thinking outside-of-the box for the solution. We can all get so ingrained with the way things
are, or the ways things ought to be, and lose sight of the fact that doing things in a different way can
create positive, satisfying outcomes.
Does this Person Sound Familiar?
Let’s look at an example of the person that always needs to be in control of you and your relationship
with them. The one who no matter what you say or do, insists on trying to make you look or sound
like your ideas are silly, that you don’t know what you’re talking about, that you are crazy for thinking
the way you do, or that your opinion on a subject doesn’t matter. The controller may even try to bait
you into a conversation with the intent to start an argument with you.
They can appear in many forms and situations: as a spouse who’s speaking to you while in the
presence of your child, the relative making a scene at the dinner table, a coworker trying to get the
upper hand inthe conference room during a business meeting. They may reel you in to make a
statement or to haveyou agree with them, and then see them lower the boom to correct you or make
you look foolish.
A quick way to turn this type of behavior around is to simply state that you’ll respectfully have to Agree to Disagree.
Use of this Agree to Disagree strategy can have a positive impact for you, and even for third party
bystanders. Once you’ve stated you’re agreeing to disagree, the shoe is on the other party’s foot to
respond, or not. If this type of conflict exchange has been happening between you and someone else
over an extended period of time, the first time you address their comments to you in this way could
cause the other person to pause, due to the shock factor…And no matter what their response, even if
they persist in asking a question such as, “What do you mean by that?”, you can always prepare
yourself to reply with “I really have no other answer for you. I am agreeing to disagree. Please pass
Using this tactic can level the playing field, give you a moment to take a breath, and set a precedent
that you are changing how you will respond to this (bad) behavior.
Easy Comments You Can Memorize for On-The-Spot Responses
Other ways of stopping this type of discussion or Agreeing to Disagree might include comments such as:
“You might be right about that” (you’re not agreeing with them, you are just acknowledging their
right to think in that way)
“I get it” or “I understand” (while not agreeing, you must be sincere. If you have to repeat back to
them what they said, be prepared to do so)
“I’ll have to think about that” or “Let me think about that” or “I’ll have to get back with you on that”
“I’m sorry” or “I’m sorry you experienced that” or “I’m sorry you feel that way” (again, be sincere)
Overuse of a strategy, like anything else, might not be in your best interest, yet an intent to stop
versus correct behavior you don’t like, will move things in a much more positive and healthy direction.
The catchall idea of Agreeing to Disagree is this simple mantra:
You don’t have to win every argument.
And you don’t have to win every argument to get your way in a disagreement.
Note: Strategies mentioned exclude the instance where you may be dealing with someone having a
personality disorder such as narcissism or pathological lying, or, a mental condition that prevents
themfrom stable mental clarity.
Carey R. Allen is a Professional Mediator, Arbitrator and Conflict Coach specializing for the past 20 years in the area of complex divorce, family and business disputes.