The term godspeed literally means “an expression of good wishes to a person starting a journey”. What kind of journey? In my case, a journey to the realm of “I have nothing further to say to you, so goodbye and good luck!” This can be regarding a specific topic or it can simply mean I have nothing else to say to that person ever. But more often than not, it simply means we’ll agree to disagree and that’s the end of it.
The truth is that you are going to disagree with someone at some point and time, no matter how much you may like or love them. The art of agreeing to disagree means understanding when you have reached an impasse and the argument becomes pointless. With this comes the wisdom of knowing what to do when that conversational plateau is reached. Sadly, we don’t all possess this kind of wisdom. Even when we do know better, we don’t always act on it.
Some will continue to argue and argue, never understanding that because neither opposing viewpoint will be yielded, there’s really no need to continue any further. Now you’re just arguing for the sake of arguing. Others will say they “agree to disagree” (and I confess, I’ve done this) and yet amazingly, whenever the topic comes up in the future, they’re back at it again, arguing with no resolution in sight.
At some point and time, a person has to know when to pack it in and walk away. So why don’t people do this more often?
REASON ONE: “I NEED TO BE RIGHT AND WON’T SHUT UP UNTIL YOU ADMIT THAT I AM”.
Sometimes, it’s actually not about the point; some people are driven by this obsessive need to be acknowledged as correct. Their point of view is the only correct one and there can be no peace until the other party sees that. And if the other person both doesn’t see it and refuses to back down, both persons remain indefinitely locked in disagreement about who is right and who is wrong.
REASON TWO: “I DON’T CARE THAT I’M WRONG, REALLY: I JUST WANT TO HAVE THE LAST WORD”.
I don’t like these people. That’s a terrible thing to say, but I really feel like such persons need to be slapped with a purple-paint soaked tuna fish at least once in their lives. I like to discuss, even debate. But the idea of keeping a conversation going for no other reason than the need to be the last one to say something on the matter is just plain tacky. I’ve been dragged into these situations and it’s not pleasant. You’re arguing and then eventually it dawns on you that this person couldn’t care less what you think about anything. This jerk just wants to be the last man/woman standing!
REASON THREE: “THIS TOPIC IS TOO CLOSE TO MY HEART. I ABSOLUTELY REFUSE TO SHUT UP”.
This is one of the reasons why you’ll find I am scarce in religious/political posts. There is no way these topics can end well. I have yet to see it happen. Maybe I’m not looking in the right places. But from my experience, when someone has a strong opinion about Christianity or Conservatives and they let it all hang out, it tends to get heated really fast.
When someone feels strongly about a topic and they argue a particular point-of-view, they are less likely to let go and walk away from the discussion. It doesn’t matter that they will never get their viewpoint across to someone who feels completely different. It can be said that to let the matter go would almost be a sort of betrayal of whatever topic or belief they hold dear or feel very strongly about.
REASON FOUR: “I WILL BE VICTORIOUS AT ALL COSTS”.
This person is pretty much the “last word bandit” on crack: Forget the point, forget being right, this person absolutely views any discussion topic as a figurative wrestling match. The victor being whichever participant can get other person(s) to cry uncle and concede. The argument is merely the means by which they pile drive their opponent into the mat. Right or wrong is irrelevant: The conversation doesn’t end until one person’s hand is raised high when all is said and done.
Whichever category you or someone you frequently disagree with fits into, it’s abundantly clear that it’s getting in the way of you letting go of a pointless confrontation and moving on. So here is some helpful advice for agreeing to disagree and walking away with as much dignity as you can:
1.) Announce the fact that you do not agree/will never agree, and that “you’ll simply have to agree to disagree”. Then end the discussion or participation in the conversation immediately.
2.) When I say end the discussion, I mean END the discussion. No relapses, no allowing yourself to be egged on for “chickening out” or the other person crowing about how your walking away means they are right/they won. Simply decide that enough is enough and mean it.
3.) Do not allow the topic to be brought up again or do not participate in the topic’s discussion with that person or group anymore. Remember “agreeing to disagree” is indefinite until such time as you decide that you no longer disagree. What’s the point of ending a pointless discussion one day if you find you’re just going to get into it again a few days later? End the discussion once and for all, and don’t go back to it.
4.) Make sure the other person or persons understand you have no intention of revisiting the issue. State this out loud should the topic come up, try to change the subject, or if necessary, walk away. Don’t allow yourself be goaded or teased into backing down. Do not cooperate in any way. Eventually, the other party/parties should get the point. If not, limit the amount of discussion time you have with them.
5.) If this is a topic that cannot simply be “agreed to be disagreed” upon, then you’re going to have to bring out the old “C” word: compromise. This means both parties attempt to negotiate what they want and try and find a common resolution that makes both persons or groups as happy as possible. If you don’t trust the persons involved to be able to reach a peaceful conclusion, find a neutral party to mediate.
You don’t have to waste your time and energy in meaningless discussions if you don’t want to. And even if you decide pointless bickering is something you enjoy doing, at some point you’re going to have to acknowledge that you look foolish. It’s easier at times to look and behave foolishly than heed the voice of reason and maturity. But that doesn’t mean it’s always such a good idea. Sometimes you just have to take a deep breath, announce you’re moving on, and wish that other person or group “godspeed”.