Recently I was having a conversation with someone and we had differing opinions on a particular topic. That description makes the exchange sound very congenial, but it wasn’t particularly nice. I was trying to enforce a policy, and the other person didn’t agree that their actions were against policy. During it, I got called a name and was accused of being paranoid, and then it all ended with my current least favorite phrase:
So let’s just agree to disagree about this whole thing.
What self-esteem boosting, participation trophy collecting idiot came up with this phrase?* If I’m disagreeing with someone about a certain point, I don’t really want to agree with them about any aspect of it at all. Nor do I want to be told how I’m going to have to feel and act about the situation.
It’s as if some synergistic opportunist thought outside of the box and said that maybe if we add a positive spin on this, it’ll leave us all with a good taste in our mouths and we won’t remember any of that nasty debate at all. Yay for getting along!
Not really. Being told that I had to agree to disagree actually made me simmer a little longer than I would have about the encounter, and it’s really pointless to waste my energy on it, when I’m obviously not going to change this person’s opinion of me–and the policy ended up getting enforced, so points for that. But with the reaction that I got to my take on the matter, I knew I wasn’t going to change this person’s mind about anything. That’s fine. I know that not everyone’s going to like me or things I say and do, and I’m OK with that. But don’t tell me that I’m going to have to agree with you on something when I really don’t want to agree with you on anything right now.
I’d rather the conversation had ended with something more like, “Well, we just have different opinions on this matter,” and left it at that. That’s a lot more neutral, puts a stop to a debate that’s never going to end, and to me it actually says that both of our opinions are valid. We call a truce, rather than someone sounding like they have the upper hand in putting an end to it.
Does anyone else feel this way? Can we agree to not agree to disagree any longer? Or do you have a different opinion on this?
*Apparently, according to a member of English Language & Usage Stack Exchange, a Q&A site about the English language, the phrase “agree to disagree” was first recorded by George Whitfield in 1750 (though in trying to verify this, I think the user meant George Whitefield, a preacher. Or you could say that the phrase “agree to differ” used by John Piggott in a sermon in 1704 was really the first, although it lacks the cutesy-ness that makes the phrase more grating. Did they give participation trophies back then?