The Joy of Disagreement

There are some people with whom it’s a joy to disagree.

A dear friend and colleague is independent-minded, intelligent, creative, opinionated, and maybe a little stubborn (like me). I love her for all these reasons. And it’s for those very same reasons that we may find ourselves on the opposite sides of issues from time to time.

The conventional theory of human interactions says that disagreement is a bad thing. But the conventional theory doesn’t get it.

When sparks fly between me and this friend, they’re the sparks of iron sharpening iron. It’s hard to explain, but I would rather have one disagreement with an honest, passionate, intelligent person than a hundred agreements from passive people.

With my friend, I understand that a disagreement is coming from someone I already like and respect, who has the courage to speak their mind freely, the intelligence to back up their argument, and the commitment to justice to yield to the best idea. Because we share values, she and I can go into a fight fairly knowing that we’re both after the same thing.

There are few better friendships than that, really. If you can’t vigorously disagree with someone and still sustain mutual friendship and respect, your friendship is not that deep. But if you can, be very grateful. It’s not every day you get to have the joy of disagreement.

James Walpole

James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, and perpetual apprentice. You're reading his blog right now, and he really appreciates it. Don't let it go to his head, though.

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