Argument stalemate: agree to disagree

September 15th, 2013 @   -  No Comments

 No two people will agree on everything all the time. Even the companions of the Prophet (PBUH) disagreed with him at times. But some people argue for the sake of arguing and it leads absolutely nowhere. It breeds frustration and resentment when each person seeks to convince the other of his/her opinion. In such situations, the preferred option is to agree to disagree whereby both parties decide to stop their debate and continue to hold their opinion while respecting the other’s. This means accepting that the other person will not adopt your idea. But is this solution beneficial for all disagreements?

When should we agree to disagree?

There are times when individuals reach a deadlock in their disagreement. The arguments from each side feel like they are going round in circles without any progress. Continuing to argue can be counter-productive since it may lead to resentment and enmity. Often, emotions overpower the content making it a good time to stop the discussion and agree to disagree.

Check your ego

In order to agree to disagree one must remember what the purpose of the argument is to begin with. Many times it becomes about protecting our pride by not “losing” the argument or refusing to admit that the other person is right.

And say to My slaves (i.e. the true believers of Islam) that they should (only) say those words that are the best. (Because) Shaitan verily, sows a state of conflict and disagreements among them. Surely, Shaitan (Satan) is to man a plain enemy.” (Quran 17:53)

Shaitan encourages disagreements in order to damage relationships. There is no point in disagreements if they only lead to resentment and hatred. You can reject a person’s idea without rejecting the person.

Can it be harmful?

It is not always beneficial to agree to disagree. When it becomes a form of avoidance of dealing with the issues at hand, it is no longer a good option. There are times when disagreements cannot be left unresolved. In such cases, one side may adopt the opinion of the other or both should work on formulating a third alternative that satisfies everyone.  For example, if the parents disagree whether to send their children to a public or private school, they cannot simply agree to disagree, they must reach a decision. Similarly, if their children fight over a toy, each claiming it as his own, problem solving is necessary.

Avoiding conflict and further disagreement by refusing to discuss important issues and always agreeing to disagree can be detrimental to relationships. It is imperative to deliberate and search for solutions so that problems do not fester and resentment does not set in. A study comparing married couples who argued during the early years of their marriage and those who did not argue found that the former were less satisfied during the early years of their marriage. However, when revisited years later, those couples were more likely to have remained married unlike the couples who avoided arguing and were more likely to get divorced. By arguing in their former years, those couples were working out their issues and creating a new dynamic that would please both parties in the relationship. Whereas, by avoiding arguments and conflicts, the other couples kept the peace for a short period, but failed to address important issues and did not establish a new pleasing dynamic. They kept dissatisfaction bottled up which led to resentment and further conflicts. So disagreements in a relationship are not to be feared as long as they are dealt with respectfully, different options are examined and the problem is not left unresolved. Disagreements offer an opportunity for growth with exposure to new and different ideas. 

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