(Issue #557) Agree to Disagree: A Conversational Fire Extinguisher?

“We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace.” ~Amanda Gorman

 As I read Tom Nichols’ The Death of Expertise, I thought back to previous posts on this blog about conversations, dialogues, and resistance bubbles.

Nichols asks us to consider how we can have a meaningful give-and-take when disagreement is viewed with anger and condescension? Just because someone says your wrong—and offers factual support—does not mean that person has demeaned you. In an attempt to avoid uncomfortable conversations, some revert to “ Well, I guess we’ll have to just agree to disagree.”

True, there are times when further conversation seems pointless. Especially when two ideologues yell at one another with no intent to hear another side. Maybe we step away hoping to return at another time.

But to “agree to disagree” seems to be an end; an obstacle to understanding.  Perhaps we think that if we don’t talk about it (whatever IT is) we will return to a peaceful state. Nichols believes that “agree to disagree…is now used indiscriminately as little more than a conversational fire extinguisher.”


Photo by Steve Piscitelli

How can we learn, change, educate, and grow? We will always have disagreement. Our nation was born out of disagreement, debate, compromise, and eventual movement. And as we have seen, movement has not always been in the correct direction.

Again, Nichols: “Principled informed arguments are a sign of intellectual health and vitality in a democracy.”

And I’d add, those same principled arguments can work in family, business office, church meeting, and community meeting, too.

Whether due to a lack of critical thinking skills or clinging to confirmation bias, we become entrenched. We turn up our vocal volume.

And then I heard Amanda Gorman deliver “The Hill We Climb.”

Video recommendation for the week:

“Where can we find light,” she asked, “in this ever-ending shade?”

We can throw shade. We can agree to disagree. We can close our minds. Or if we take the brave step to seek understanding, to shed light, and maybe see other points of view through informed, civil, discourse.

Then maybe, again in Ms. Gorman’s words, “We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace.”

Make it a great week and HTRB has needed.

My new book has been released.
eBook ($2.99) Paperback ($9.99). Click here.

Roxie Looks for Purpose Beyond the Biscuit.

Well, actually, my dog Roxie gets top billing on the author page for this work. Without her, there would be no story.
Click here for more information about the book.

In the meantime, check out her blog.

And you can still order:

  • My book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print and e-book) is available on Amazon. More information (including seven free podcast episodes that spotlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at the above link.
  • Check out my book Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island (2017). It has been adopted for teaching, learning, and coaching purposes. I conducted a half-day workshop for a community college’s new faculty onboarding program using the scenarios in this book. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same. The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.

My podcasts can be found at The Growth and Resilience Network®.

You will find more about what I do at www.stevepiscitelli.com.

©2021. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®


About stevepiscitelli

Community Advocate-Author-Pet Therapy Team Member
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3 Responses to (Issue #557) Agree to Disagree: A Conversational Fire Extinguisher?

  1. marianbeaman says:

    Yes, I saw Amanda Gorman deliver her wondrous poem and even downloaded the text.

    As for communicating, I try not to judge but to understand. Have a great week, Steve!


  2. Thanks, Marian. Understanding….we do need to be more curious to help us understand. Here is a video I did for the local elementary school about the connection between literacy and curiosity: https://youtu.be/i1bQe-6a6MI.
    As always, thanks for reading and sharing.


  3. Pingback: (Issue #605) A Blogger’s Retrospective for 2021 | The Growth and Resilience Network®

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