Many people enjoy debating and discussing personal and political issues. However, in some cases, a debate is less than friendly and can become a source of conflict and stress. Sometimes it seems like "giving in" to agree to disagree and walk away from an argument. However, it can be vital to do that in order to preserve your relationships and protect both your mental and physical health.
Unnecessary fighting and arguing can raise your blood pressure; over time, poor anger management and conflict resolution skills can cause you heart attacks and strokes. In addition, high stress levels can make you more prone to disease in general and can increase your risk of certain types of cancers. For all these reasons, you should learn some simple techniques to help you determine when it's best to agree to disagree.
Check Your Priorities
If you start getting upset or frustrated during a discussion, take a step back and ask yourself how important the issue is to you. If the discussion is academic or is on a topic that doesn't really impact your life, then it shouldn't matter whether your friends or family agree with you or not.
If the topic is one that is important to you for personal reasons, such as the best way to raise children or a discussion about political issues that directly impact your life, ask yourself two additional questions:
1. How likely am I to change the other person's mind?
2. How important is my relationship with this person?
Answering these questions can help you see whether there's any point to continuing with a discussion that is beginning to frustrate you. The second question is also important because you don't want to ruin your relationships with people over a difference of opinion.
Preserving Your Relationships
If you have a difference of opinion with someone important to you, such as a parent or close friend, arguing heatedly is going to harm the relationship. Your choices are to agree to disagree or agree to discuss it later when you are both calmer.
Some people don't like to end conversations with family or friends because they are afraid it will hurt the relationship. However, the opposite is true. If you continue arguing to the point that you are both frustrated or anybody tries to force his or her opinion on the other person, it can irreparably harm the relationship. It is much better to say that the conversation is getting too heated and that you don't want to argue.
It is also helpful sometimes to refuse to discuss certain topics with certain people. For example, if you and your friends have passionate--but opposing--views on political issues, discussions of these issues are likely to end up in heated arguments. In order to reduce stress and help preserve the friendship, you might agree to disagree on politics and not discuss any political issues with these friends.
Getting Caught Up in an Argument
Whenever you argue with someone else, your adrenalin starts pumping. As a result, the more you continue in a heated conversation, the angrier you get. As the conflict escalates, it becomes harder and harder to stop fighting because of your level of passion about the subject. This extreme anger can cause you to say or do things that you regret in the heat of argument. Not only do you risk physical violence, but you risk saying things you regret if you keep arguing.
For this reason, it's important to agree to disagree when you first realize you are getting angry. By walking away sooner rather than later, you stop conflicts from escalating and reduce the risk of losing control of yourself.
Temporarily Agreeing to Disagree
In some cases, you might want to revisit the discussion later rather than permanently agreeing to disagree. For example, if you feel your spouse is too permissive with the kids, you don't want to just "agree to disagree" because you will continue to feel resentful and angry whenever you see him or her parenting in a way that you don't feel comfortable with. In these cases, it's best to temporarily agree to disagree so that you can calm down and then revisit the conflict at a later date when you are calm.
Conflict is not comfortable for most people, so it can be hard to figure out when to agree to disagree instead of continuing the conflict. If you take steps to protect yourself when you notice your anger level rising, you can walk away from unnecessary conflicts and engage in healthy and peaceful conflict resolution.
Katelyn Roberts is a frequent contributor for NetQin. She writes on a wide variety of topics including technology,green living and entertainment