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How to disagree respectfully? All ideas are welcome.

Community Champion
Community Champion

I have noticed especially in social media but also in real life, that people find it hard to disagree with respect.

We have seen politicians being personal and rude to each other just because they have different opinions.

I don't think it is possible for us all to agree with each other but it is necessary for us to discuss our differences without attacking the personality of the other person.

How do you disagree with people showing politeness and respect.?

I encourage you to share your ideas, even if you find it hard to disagree respectfully.

I feel for our mental health it is important for us to be aware of how our comments may affect others.


81 Replies 81

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Thanks Quirky. This is a great topic.

I would add, if that's OK with you Quirky, how we handle any disrespectful feedback from someone. The temptation is to answer in kind but that only escalates the tension and does nothing for the discussion. However we are not taking part in a discussion to be abused.

I think we need to listen to ourselves speak. How often has someone said "It's not what they said but the way it was said". I think this is very much a root cause of disrespect. Or maybe it is the disrespect that shows itself in an unacceptable tone. Whatever the cause we can make sure we are speaking calmly and plainly, allowing the other to respond. It's so easy to want to jump in before the other person has finished making their point.

Allowing someone to explain and giving our full attention to what is being said is a respectful attitude. If we are puzzled or unsure about anything asking questions shows we are listening and want to clearly understand what is being said.

If we are being cut off by someone or subjected to abuse then the only answer is to walk away. It may feel as the other has 'won' the discussion but in reality I believe the other person will know the response is unacceptable no matter what they say. Hopefully, in those circumstances, they will be more inclined to have a polite answer next time.


Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear Quirky (wiht a wave at Mary)

I beleive disagreeing respectfully is a two person process, unless both wish to engage wiht the other it is a no-win situation.

True, one can listen whiteout interrupting, and ask for clarification if needs be, but one should expect the same from the other party. This may not end up in a situation where agreement is reached, but agreeing to disagree is a common event, and not always bad.

If the other party does not wish to extend the same courtesy then I think your solution, Mary, to walk away, is the only realistic one.

All that being said I'm afraid I've no path to wisdom and the other person might well be right 😞


hello Mary and greetings to everyone reading

I was going to mention about handling feedback but was starting with discussion.

Thanks for mentioning it and your important points you discussed.

I think when we get negative feedback we feel attacked and emotional so our first response is to attack back. I agree if we listen to what is said and remain calm it stops the attacks escalating. Also it can depend on who is giving the feedback, is it s afriend , a loved one or a stranger.

If a loved one give me negative feedback that I feel is untrue and uncalled for , I do get defensive while trying to be calm, but that often ends in tears.

I thinking giving our full intention and remember wring to discuss an opinion and not attack the person is important.

So May there are two situations

1- is when two,people are discussing a point of view

2- is when someone gives you negative personal feedback that was not asked for.

I find with 2 it is hard to be respectful when the feedback is not. if it is a family member it is hard to walk away from.

Thanks for your helpful post.


Community Champion
Community Champion

hello all

Dear Croix,

Thanks for your reply.

That is a goodpoint about it being a two,process about discussing respectfully. You see this on television where one person is being very rude and overtalking and the other just sits calmly until he/she has had enough and then they both start shouting at each other.

Agreeing to disagree is an art but ma y people want to prove the other person wrong so they can be right.

I feel lucky we live in a country where we can voice our opinions.

There is a time and place to disagree and a time to just remain quiet.

Years ago an elderly relative told me after his wife died he chose not to be depressed.

I could have discussed this with him but I just let it go as I knew nothing I would say would change his mind . I wanted my time with him to be calm.


Dear Quirky

Hope I did not tread on your toes with my suggestion. I think the two parts work alongside each other and we need to think about our usual responses and consciously decide to speak respectfully. I know we usually do but reminding ourselves may help not to rush into hasty thoughts and words. I know this has been my besetting sin.


Hello all

White Rose, I welcome your input to the discussion as I always learn something from your common sense wisdom.

I find when someone touches a raw nerve with some ill chosen words, I do find it hard not to react. I am trying and sometimes I am calm and sometimes I am not.


Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear Quirky~

I agree some things are too important to back down on, they tend to be principals -at least for me, animal cruelty springs to mind.

I also agree a person that is close to you is a bit of a different matter. Because you are close any criticism or unkind words have more effect, and gets bound up with if that person cares for you.

I guess in the short term you walk away if you can, escalation will not realy help and could turn into a 'hurting match'. When I'm being obnoxious my partner (Mrs Walrus to you) simply goes silent (I just sulk:). Later one of us offers the other a cup of tea. Peace returns

We do have a 'non aggression pact', neither of us will say anything that hurts deeply, has too much unconformable truth or cannot be taken back during an 'lively earnest discussion'. Took a 2nd marriage by both of us to realise we needed harmony. I'm lucky.

It is hard to get that balance when hurting.


white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Thanks Quirky

Over 40 yeats ago as a young 21yo recruit for the prison service I was lucky to have one of the best teachers of communication, tact and erhics. He was a high ranked officer and what he taught my class was amazing.

Furthermore the respect he received from other officers and prisoners was very high.

Eg. He one day berated an inmate in front of 10 other inmates for leaving his cell messy. Later he realised he got the cell number wrong. So he rounded up the 11 inmates and apologized to the inmate in front of the other 10.

Its a little off topic but building respect is something grown by what you sow.

As far as social media goes I've found there are good forums and toxic forums. The toxic ones I leave quickly. No point in arguing with those that enjoy it.

"Greasing the cherry tree" is a technique I find handy. It meams an introduction of a semi compliment prior to a different viewpoint. Eg

"I dont agree with that at all" can be added to at the beginning to say- "well I can see where you are going with that but I tend to disagree".


Hello people,


I like the nonaggression pact and the cups of tea .

I find it hard to ignore racism , cruelty to animals and humans, but I also know there is a time and place. I have learnt to listen to another’s point of view before jumping to do conclusions.


I like the story of the officer apologising when he realised his mistake.

I agree that the words one uses and chooses are important.

I sometimes say, β€œ I agree with this point. I have problems with that point”.