I’m right and you’re wrong… I disagree

I'm right and you're wrong... I disagree2

I’m right and you’re wrong
I’m big and you’re small,
and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Roald Dahl

Want to shut down a conversation? Here’s a pretty good way to do it.

“I disagree “

One of the most overused words in english must be “discussion”.

Discussion is when one person opines and the others wait for their turn to interrupt and say “I disagree”.

Discussion is about winning and  claiming sole right to truth – and if we can’t do that positively we undermined the ideas put forward by another, and if that doesn’t work we undermine the person putting forward those ideas – and their right to even have an idea worth hearing in the first place.

Disagree and discussion are like evil twins in some fairy tale.

Discussion  reduces every conversation to a competition: the word actually means to strike the winning blow or argument- usually in a debate: which in turn means to take the life out of an idea- literally to kill the other idea.

Discussion and debate is verbal jousting. We win a debate by striking blows- we call them arguments. Listen to any televised political debate for commentators looking for “winning blow” or ‘fatal blow” or “killer blow”. If we can’t make our idea seem the strongest by logic and facts we turn to  undermining the other idea. In debate there can be only two ideas – and they must be  set in opposition so that one must win.

It’s like some one, some time, won some big debate that there is only one way to have a conversation and henceforth all human interchange will be in the form of verbal jousting and conversational violence.

Disagree and Discuss are oppressive, a way of thinking that may even be the very roots of oppression themselves – if not then they certainly feed and nourish it.

Yet, it seems we are condemned to only discuss- strike the winning blow – every time we put forward an idea.

Is life in this world reducible to two ideas set in opposition so that one must be killed in order for the other to win?

Do we have to kill one idea before we can share another ?

Does one idea only have validity if all others are put down?

Do we have to disagree with an idea in order to have an idea of our own?
No, no, no and no.

We can simply share our ideas.
We can have a conversation with a centre but without sides.

Talking with 
Conversation means talking – or versing- with. If you’ve been talked to or talked at, and you likely have, then you’ll know it doesn’t much feel like talking with.

Talking with is at least as much about listening as it is about speaking. We have, after all,  evolved with two eyes, two ears and  one mouth for a reason.

Listening takes more than just looking for the next opportunity to interrupt.

Listening takes more than looking for factoids or opinions with which to agree or disagree like we’re some and/or, right/wrong, agree/disagree gate in an electronic logic circuit. 

Listening takes more than simply seeking data to confirm what we already know or believe.

“I disagree” is a very effective way to shut down a conversation – and a very good way to leave the person who just shared an idea feeling small and invalidated.

“I disagree” is not necessary to have or introduce an idea of our own.

“I disagree” says:  “I’m right you’re wrong”

“I disagree” says I don’t have the balls to have an opinion without first undermining yours.

“I beg to disagree ” pretends to deference but lacks the balls to even say so.

“I disagree” always says: “I’m not listening”.

Real listening is when we suspend our judgements, work to hold ourselves open: open and  willing to change or to be changed by what we might hear.

Real listening isn’t much about ears but more about holding ourselves open to the universe.

Real listening is hard, takes energy and compassion.

I don’t make any claim to be a good listener –  I don’t believe it’s something we can claim for ourselves – but I have learned to become better at listening,  partly by trying this I learned from Daniel Seigel:

“If you want to learn how to really listen
I suggest you try to listen with your bones”

Dr Daniel Siegel

You could try it too, it’s kinda fun, and when you learn how I think you’ll find it’s hard to disagree.

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2 Responses to I’m right and you’re wrong… I disagree

  1. korazorba1 says:

    where can we sign up for your school of open fields where thoughts and feelings can roam free, like children at play?

    this one reminds one of this little home slammer:

    “There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which can not fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance-that principle is contempt prior to investigation.” –HERBERT SPENCER


    • haha!

      Strawberry Fields for ever…!

      I think the field might be the one we call the mind
      we can open ours or close it.
      I’ve learned my life is better when my mind is open.

      A close mind is a tyrant, an open mind is a gift.

      It’s not easy but it is learnable – then, chiefly, it requires desire and intention to remain open.

      I guess having at least 12 voices talking from very different perspectives all day might help with practice.

      I like the Herbert Spencer quote, thank you.

      As you know I’m a fan of David Bohm’s and William Isaacs’ but there are others.

      Margaret Wheatley’s “Leadership And The New Science” fair blew my mind when I was reading it – like my head now could contain the whole cosmos.
      That does take a lot of energy.

      There’s a process from Germany mostly, I think, called Appreciative Inquiry…. can be quite useful and seems to fit with well as counter to the Herbert Spencer idea since it starts with appreciating…


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