Stop Shutting Out Those You Disagree With

Go back to yesterday, you probably dealt with someone you disagreed with. Or maybe tomorrow at Christmas dinner, you’re going to be confronted with a family member who shares his dissenting viewpoints.

Let’s face it. Every day we encounter people we don’t agree with.

Our gut reaction is to shut out people who disagree with us. We don’t want to hear their opposing views.

But we’re losing out when we shut out those who we disagree with. We’re missing an opportunity to engage and learn about someone else.

That’s why I want to talk about why we need to stop shutting out those you disagree with.

Don't let disagreements destroy relationships

Image by Daniel Reid

No one out there can honestly say they don’t have a viewpoint someone else may find offensive or disagreeable. Every person thinks in a unique way that may rub another person wrong.

That’s okay. We’re unique. We know that.

Then why do people frequently shut out people they disagree with?

People will go to great lengths to avoid people with different mindsets. In fact, I almost did it at the Catalyst Labs this year.

I Disagreed But I Listened

The speaker was Ian Cron. He’s an Episcopalian pastor and someone who’s studied deeply the life of St. Francis of Assisi.

Cron’s Catalyst talked revolved around this study and how St. Francis changed the world around him.

Cron shared that St. Francis changed the world by:

Embracing poverty

Embracing peace

Embracing helping

You’re probably thinking “How can Joseph disagree with those points? They’re great.” But I have to say there were parts of his talk that rubbed me the wrong way.

And that’s okay. We can sit and listen and engage and disagree. It truly becomes interesting when we’re able to be in the presence of people we disagree with.

I Disagreed But I Asked Questions

One of the really cool things about the Catalyst Labs is the ability to interact with the speakers. Due to the smaller size of the Lab sessions, many speakers open up part of their session for question and answer.

Cron did this during his talk and I knew I had to ask a question.

My question revolved around the ultimate goal of peace and whether or not Jesus would agree with that way of life. This question came from moments in the Bible where Jesus was either violent (Jesus did overturn tables and whip people) or mentioned he didn’t come to bring peace (look it up, that’s in the Bible) or how he told his disciples to buy a sword (yup, that’s in the Bible as well).

While I disagreed with Cron, I was willing to open myself up to a new line of thinking. I was willing to approach a man I disagreed with and ask a heartfelt question.

It’s okay to disagree but don’t shut someone out before you ask questions. Dig deeper into the issue. See where they’re coming from and if it’s valid.

I Disagreed But I Discussed

After Cron’s session released, I met with my wife to discuss the Catalyst Lab session and share my thoughts. I told Pam what was said and how I felt about the session.

At that point, I wasn’t sure how I fully felt. There was conflict and tension and indignation.

But I continued to discuss the session. With Pam, with my blogging team, and with others.

Through the disagreement, I dug deeper into the issues and what I was feeling.

This allowed others to offer feedback along with the answers I’d gotten from Ian Cron.

Discussion brought about a deeper understanding of why Cron felt the way he did, a deeper understanding of why others felt the way they did, and a deeper understanding of why I felt the way I did.

Disagreement with discussion opens eyes and allows you to see new avenues of thinking.

Disagree But Don’t Shut Out

It’s so easy to shut people out when we disagree with what they’re saying. For many, it’s also what they’ve been taught.

There’s this mindset of we’re not supposed to listen to opposing viewpoints. They’re wrong, we’re right, and that’s that.

And yet through my disagreement with Ian Cron’s viewpoint, beautiful conversations happened.

I learned more about myself and others than I thought I was going to that night.

When you disagree and allow yourself to hear what others are saying, you learn. You grow. You discover.

Let’s agree to stop shutting others out when we don’t agree with what they’re saying. Instead, try to do at least 3 things:

Listen

Ask questions

Discuss

This will take you deeper and further than you could have ever imagined.

Question: How do you deal with ideas that you disagree with? Let’s share our stories in the comment section below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.