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A Friend is Someone Who is Good at Not Getting Along With You

The character of a team is revealed not by how much affection its members display during times of agreement, but by how well its members learn to communicate and coexist during moments of dispute.

Getting along when we agree is evidence neither of compatibility nor camaraderie. Getting along when we agree is just a part of what it means to agree.

Even rivals appear to be allies when they advocate the same point of view.

Disagreement, far from being a threat to genuine friendship, is the very thing that makes it possible to distinguish enemies from friends.

Without the capacity for conflict, there can be no basis for chemistry.

I disagree with “I disagree”

“I disagree”, when offered as the final statement in response to any idea, strikes me as the  least productive stance that could be taken if one’s purpose for engaging alternative perspectives involves learning and personal growth.

“I disagree”, in the sense I have described above, seems to lead to nothing more than a triumphant sense of one’s own rightness.

For those who wish to philosophize for reasons other than dismissing the other party as “wrong”, here are a few alternative options for how one can respond to an idea he dislikes:

What are some non-condescending reasons for why anyone would be drawn to this idea? How can I make sense out of the people who see the world in this way without assuming they are stupid?

What are some aspects of this idea, or the concerns that motivated its development, I can genuinely appreciate?

How can I practically aapply some facets of this idea to my advantage without compromising my epistemic objections to the idea’s actual truth-value?

Have I asked any questions about this idea prior to expressing my disagreement? How many questions have I asked about this idea prior to expressing my disagreement? Would I be satisfied with this same quality of research if it were adopted by those who disagree with what I believe?

And last, but not least, why do I disagree?

Exploring ideas is my passion. No matter how much I may disagree with a concept, I always strive to get something useful out of my interaction with other perspectives. I encourage others to do the same.

If you can think of some other constructive responses people can adopt towards controversial or seemingly contradictory ideas, feel free to share them in the comments.

In the meantime, I wish you a never-ending, eternally expanding adventure in learning.


T.K. Coleman

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