Agree to Agree

Just a quick thought…

I understand “agreeing to disagree” — really I do. Often, that’s where we get in a conversation. Maybe even most of the time.

But “we agree to disagree” doesn’t have to be the default position, does it? Furthermore, is that really a “conversation?”

When I read “ideas are exchanged,” I interpret that as being a two-way transaction. I suppose that’s an assumption, and not necessarily so. Perhaps sometimes the intent of a “conversation” is to convince the other person that they are wrong, and we are right. A one-way exchange. That’s a valid purpose. But I think it’s limited.

If I’m able to convince someone that I’m right and they’re wrong, then what have I really gained? Perhaps I really am right, and then convincing someone of it is a positive thing — just as positive as me learning I’m wrong. But I’m selfish in that I usually want to learn something. And that means either learning that I’m wrong about something, or at least learning that my understanding is somehow incomplete.

So, I think I try to make most of my conversations, and most of the conversations that I facilitate, start out with at least some level of “agreeing to agree.” The purpose of the conversation is — at least initially — to find common ground. From there, we can branch out.