Post Author: Bill Pratt
Seth Godin recently wrote a great blog post on the ways we disagree with other people. He first describes three easy ways to disagree, and then gives the fourth more difficult way.
The easiest way to disagree with someone “is to assume that they are uninformed, and that once they know what you know, they will change their mind. (A marketing problem!)”
This is generally my default position when I see someone disagreeing with me. If we can just get the facts straight, then we will agree. That’s my going-in position. If the subject of disagreement is fairly simple and limited in scope, then this assumption works out for me. Otherwise, not so much.
The second easiest way to disagree is to assume that the other person is a dolt, a loon, a misguided zealot who refuses to see the truth. Their selfish desire to win interferes with their understanding of reality. (A political problem!)
I generally don’t resort to thinking this way unless I see that the person I’m talking to is taking extreme positions regardless of the evidence. I wrote a post recently on hyper-skepticism that relates to this way of disagreement.
Godin explains that the “third easiest way to disagree with someone is to not actually hear what they are saying. (A filtering problem!)”
I really try hard, myself, to not do this. I have to admit, though, that when a person comes on the blog and only ever disagrees with everything I say, that after a while, I find it harder and harder to listen to anything they say. Some skeptics have complained to me that I don’t answer them or listen to them, but I can’t help it. Put yourself in my place. What would you do?
Finally, Godin comes to the hardest way to disagree with someone.
The hardest way to disagree with someone is to come to understand that they see the world differently than we do, to acknowledge that they have a different worldview, something baked in long before they ever encountered this situation. (Another marketing problem, the biggest one).
This insight is pure gold. I have found time and time again that when someone is disagreeing with me – even when we have the same facts, even when we are both being reasonable, even when we are both listening to each other – that there is a profound difference in our worldviews. We simply see everything in the world very differently from each other.
Let’s face it. Changing someone’s worldview is extraordinarily difficult and takes a massive time investment. That is why I am thankful that God is in the business of radical change. Without the Holy Spirit moving in people’s lives, the work of evangelism would be pointless and fruitless. It is really, really, hard to change people’s worldviews without supernatural intervention.