To agree to disagree. Is it a good idea? | Michele Willmott

To agree to disagree. Is it a good idea?

To agree to disagree may have its uses in some cases. It doesn't seem wise to put a statement such as this on every situation; especially when it comes to relationships.

Maybe you and your partner just see a certain topic or aspect of life differently. You have differing opinions but it doesn't cause a rift between you. Neither does it cause resentment or disconnection.

However, what do you when it does leave at least one of you feeling hurt and upset?

What if you believe your partner is using this type of communication as a way of avoiding his or her responsibilities?
What if the topic is dishonouring one of your important life values and you feel angry that you are being dismissed?

Here are my thoughts on your next steps and what to consider:

1. To start with, you are allowed to feel hurt, upset and angry.
Your feelings are valid and it is not a simple case of trying to manage these feelings and convince yourself it's not that important.
It's crucial to try and exercise self compassion during times when we feel hurt. Acknowledge where you are in the moment.
On the other hand your feelings are not an excuse to hold a grudge or be passive aggressive and withdraw from your partner without putting those behaviours right.

2. Get Curious.
i) When you feel the 'ouch' of being dismissed when your partner says "let's agree to disagree"; it's important to get very curious.

Your 'ouch' is an opportunity to get more intimate with yourself about what's going on underneath the surface.
Ask yourself, what is my deeper concern or fear here? You may not think you have a fear when all you feel is angry, but anger is rooted in fear. Most often people will have a fear around being rejected or having to be the rejector if things don't get better.

ii) It is also essential to get curious about the voice that is saying 'let's agree to disagree'. That voice for me is one of the four shadow archetypes I use in my relationship coaching. This is the Saboteur shadow who prefers to avoid being vulnerable and digging a bit deeper. It doesn't like the discomfort that this can bring up and therefore hides behind opinions and judgements. 

By saying this it is missing the point. The point being that disconnection has resulted from the communication. It has not brought you closer together it has in fact created a rift. This needs to be aired. It is not acceptable in my experience for one person to think that it's done and dusted just because they feel okay about the situation. 

3. The truth is, this is not about agreeing or disagreeing.

It is about exploring the fears, the upset, and the topic at hand in more detail. You are looking for a win win for both parties and this needs to be a shared goal. No-one has to lose out. You are both creating an opportunity to act with integrity as individuals rather than create a situation where one person 'wins' either of you want that?

Someone therefore needs to call this and likely it will have to be the aggrieved. It doesn't have to be done in an aggressive way.

You can explain the point that disconnection has happened because you are feeling resentful and you don't want to keep carrying this around with you. You can express any fears about what your mind is making this situation mean to you. You can also say that you would appreciate exploring the topic in order to come to a solution about what to do next time something similar arises or in regards to taking some action now if this is still possible. 

4. When you speak up watch out for the temptation to use 'I wouldn't do that to you' type of comments.

Again what is the point of saying this? It is the arrogance of the Saboteur and again it is an avoidance of tactic; putting oneself on a pedestal and creating a semblance of perfectionism in order not to get vulnerable and risk being rejected.

Just because your partner hurt you doesn't mean you get to be judgemental back. You don't want to be that kind of person right?

5. Hold the vision for the relationship up high.

Be transparent and take responsibility for your feelings. If you don't want to be someone who is resentful and arrogant say it: 'I can feel myself wanting to be arrogant about this but I don't want to fall into that. This for me is about getting on the same page and I am sure there is a way forward, which we are not seeing right now'. Use your own words, try things out, take responsibility and take a stand for a higher vision for the relationship. 

My biggest breakthrough in my own relationship was breaking down the voice of the Saboteur and not letting it lead me in my behaviour or speech. It is my biggest challenge in my relationship work with couples. The Saboteur is the epitome of the status quo voice in us all. It is the voice that tells us that we should or should not do things or be a certain way. It is the voice that gets us to compromise ourselves according to idealistic standards that do not align with who we are. It is also the voice that subtly encourages people to constantly chase for perfection and success. When the Saboteur speaks it is often experienced as a 'No, don't be who you are' and this can be painful when you are the receiver. 

The good things is that once you can really see when and how this voice is showing up in your relationship, you can ensure that it does not get to have the final say in the matter.

You and your partner have a far greater capacity to create connection out of perceived conflict than you realise. 

Don't let the sabotage rule!

If you are looking to get in-depth support in your relationship and to change the foundations to one of healthy relating and communicating please get in touch. You can book a call to speak with me on my coaching for couples page or my mentoring for men and women

About the Author

Michele Willmott, Relationship Coach and Mentor. I help successful men, women and couples renew and transform their relationship for the long-term.