The Art of Polite Disagreement

polite disagreement


It’s no news that these days, anything goes and everything goes on online. The World Wide Web often creates an open arena for the truly tasteless and impolite use of powerful words. With faceless contenders, comes the lack of self-restraint, and when we can’t observe physical responses, the imagination runs wild. Everything gets personal. Rants go on. Innocent company images are ravaged, and in some cases, lost. And while we constantly remind ourselves that diversity makes the world go round, it continues to encourage disagreement, scattering conflict all over cyberspace. One can no longer afford to log on without minding their manners.

By definition, to disagree is to show a difference of opinion, lack of agreement or to express diversity. It’s how we convey our individual thoughts and often the way to jump into a hot discussion. We all have a different take on things, so this comes naturally, instinctual. And even though we have all been taught to behave in public and in the workplace, it is amazing how many have dropped their Ps and Qs in the desktop trash. For those of you who have already emptied your bins, here are a few pointers to help you brush up on the fine art of polite disagreement:

  1. Remember that everyone has the same right to share his or her thoughts. Respect others in their ideas, as well as their rights to express them.
  2. Listen. You might learn something, even if you disagree. This gives you time to organize your thoughts, so you can contribute to the discussion appropriately.
  3. Acknowledge what is being said before you introduce your opposing view: “I understand your point, but…” or “I see where you’re coming from, but…”
  4. Explain why you disagree. Not a single person will really care what you have to say if you don’t have backup to your noise making
  5. Be credible. More backup here. Reference where your ideas are coming from so you can effectively take the stand.
  6. Get ready for a debate. If you can dish it out, you better be ready to take it. And take it politely. Remember: ALL CAPS IS A SIGN OF AGGRESSION! and Internet acronyms aren’t always the most polite and mannerly options while accepting a difference of opinion. More importantly, please take note: Obscenities never help in earning respect. Stay calm, and be personable without taking it personally.
  7. Be willing to agree to disagree. A tactful approach always works best.

A few more suggestion for the less than civilized: Look twice for humor and get in touch with your sense of humility. Be mindful of your voice when you respond to blogs and take time to post your viewpoint.

Once you hit that submit button, there may be no turning back. If you find yourself typing along, and you just can’t seem to find a polite way to say it, move on, and don’t say anything at all.

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