How to Disagree Productively

Quite Christians as sometimes seen as noble and patient. But is it always virtuous to remain quiet? When is it better to hold your tongue? When is it better to speak out and confront? Is it un-Christian to stir the pot, so to speak? As Christians we should seek to avoid contention, right?

When we hide behind our Christianity to cover and justify our fear to speak up about issues and stand up for our beliefs, we do ourselves and others a great disservice. It is valuable to bring issues to the surface. But how we bring those issues up matters.

The reality is that we all have differing views, opinions, and beliefs. Even when we share similar religious, cultural, or political views, we will still have differing views, interpretations, and opinions within those views that we share.

When Christ appeared to the Nephites, one of the first things He addressed was the arguing that was happening over matters of baptism. He wasn’t telling them to avoid talking about their different views. The problem wasn’t that they were asking questions and talking about their different understanding of the topic.  The problem was how they went about that discussion, how they shared their views and how they listened to others.

It’s valuable to engage in conversations that discuss differing views and opinions. It is valuable to discuss and articulate your views as well. But how we engage in those discussions matters very much.

It takes emotional and spiritual development to be respectful of the differing views of others. It also takes a certain level of emotional and spiritual maturity to unapologetically own and make clear your views.

It requires a strong sense of self to not be dependent upon an outside source to validate you in your view in order to stand by your view. It takes a strong sense of self to not be dependent on needing people to agree with us to feel more secure in our views.


 

I found Julia Dhar’s TED talk insightfully as she discusses how to disagree productively.

Julia Dhar: How to disagree productively

Some days, it feels like the only thing we can agree on is that we can’t agree — on anything. Drawing on her background as a world debate champion, Julia Dhar offers three techniques to reshape the way we talk to each other so we can start disagreeing productively and finding common ground — over family dinners, during work meetings and in our national conversations.