Psychology Explains Why It’s Ok to Agree to Disagree

4 – Don’t apologize for your beliefs

Don’t apologize for having a different opinion than other people. That’s the beauty of freedom and disagreeing. Don’t feel guilty if you disagree. This may be hard, especially if you admire the person and feel like you should agree with them. Don’t say “I’m sorry, I disagree with you” because it’s okay to have a different opinion.

5 – Be a good listener

Be sure to listen with your eyes, ears, and mouth when the other person is talking. It’s easy to think about what you want to say next when you’re in a disagreement and miss what the person is really saying. Listening well shows them that you respect them and want to learn from them. Ask good questions, especially if you don’t understand a point they’re making. Questions you could ask include:

  • What do you feel like you want me to understand about this thing we disagree on?
  • How does your belief affect the way you live? Why?
  • Can you explain to me your conviction, about_______more?
  • What would you like me to know most about your feelings about_______?
  • What do you think we could agree on?
  • What do you think we especially disagree with?
  • How could I be a better listener right now?

At the end of the disagreement, ask them if anything they did or said made them feel disrespected. If you make an effort to be a good listener and a good learner, People will feel safe with you and that you truly value their opinions and beliefs even if though they know you disagree with them.

When is it not okay to agree to disagree?

Sometimes you need to decide that you can’t agree to disagree for a variety of reasons. You never want to go along with something that goes against your conscience or is asking you to do something illegal or immoral. Here are just a few reasons why it’s not okay to disagree.

1 – To shut down all conversations

There is nothing worse than being in the middle of a disagreement, and one individual stands up and says,  “Okay, I agree to disagree!” This is a manipulative thing to do and shut down the conversation. Agreeing to disagree must be mutual with both parties. If this happens, you shouldn’t allow the person to manipulate you into another conversation where they may do this again. Good chance, they don’t care to understand what you believe, and instead of humbly saying so, they walk away.

2 – To avoid conflict

A study published by the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, via the National Institute of Health, suggests that suppression of emotions might lead to physical consequences.

It’s easy to want to keep the peace and never get into a disagreement with anyone, but this isn’t always helpful.  Avoiding confrontation can lead to not having a deep relationship.  If you agree to disagree with avoiding conflict all the time but never get to real issues you both have, it’s basically sticking your head in the sand and hoping the disagreement will get worked out without any effort on your part.

It’s best to sit down with the individual and discuss the issues at hand. Try to resolve what you can and what you can’t. You’ll need to leave for a later date if they’re willing.

3 – It’s not an excuse for abuse

If the person wants you to agree to disagree on a moral issue, something illegal, or an issue of abuse, you must refuse to go along with them. Respecting their views doesn’t mean you accept their bad behavior. It may be good to distance yourself from this person if this is being asked of you. If you think someone is in danger because of this person’s actions, you need to report it to the police.


Disagreeing with someone may feel intimidating at first.  But if you are secure in your beliefs and convictions, it gets easier. Be sure you are comfortable discussing things with people in a respectful way. Learn to be a good listener and ask good questions.  Disagreements can be healthy for relationships because it teaches us what other people believe and think. We can grow and learn in these conversations.

Use respectful words and ask questions when you are in discussion with someone. Look for common ground and remember that you may not be seeing everything as clearly as you think you are. Give the other person the benefit of the doubt. We all have our shortcomings and our bad days, so be kind and gentle even though you feel strongly about your convictions. Never say you’re sorry for what you believe.

If the person attacks you or walks out on the conversation, it may be time to find a new friend or partner. Disagreements reveal the true character of a person. Be open to agreeing to disagree on some issues, but be sure to keep the dialogue going because you may change your mind later.

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