Disagreement is NOT Disrespect

Celebrating a difference of opinion comes in two flavours.

First, you see a lot of individuals and organizations splatter the phrase, “We celebrate a difference of opinion.”, in their speeches and culture decks. This simply means that they celebrate a difference of opinion as long as one does not disagree with them (said individuals and organizations).

Second, you see organizations not advertising this celebration, but empower individuals within the organization to have healthy disagreements, because disagreements, in some sense, is the quickest route to the truth.

We have a lot of the former, and a lot less of the latter.

In the first case, why does this phenomenon even arise, ‘disagreement is great, so long as you don’t disagree with me’?

I believe it because it is easier to be objective when two people are going at it, when one of the two people isn’t you.

When one of the two people is you, you believe you have been given an unfair hearing, your point of view was misunderstood, your opinion was misconstrued.

The next logical step is to believe you that were disrespected.

And this is a common mistake. Disagreement does not mean Disrespect.

When you disagree, be civil. And remember Paul Graham’s Hierarchy of Disagreement.

Many of us do not consider the first four levels of the hierarchy depicted above- Refuting the Central Point, Refutation, Counterargument, Contradiction.

Instead, we move directly to level 4, level 5, and level 6.

We disliked the tone in which someone spoke to us. We assumed someone mischaracterised us without taking the substance of our argument into account. We believe insulted us.

The truth is that it is our egos which make us assume the argument has hit level 4, level 5 and level 6.

Of course there will be heated situations where level 4, level 5, and level 6 will be explicitly visible. But as long as it is not, you are making yourself implicitly believe that you have been disrespect.

The Lesson:

Be civil. Be precise and accurate in your comments. Don’t nag and don’t act like a petulant child.

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