I used the phrase ‘agree to disagree’ in The Secret Community For Midwives In The Making recently.
We were in a huge debate about feminism, something that raises the temperature of many brilliant people I know.
Since then I’ve reflected on this phrase and began to think about what it means when we say ‘we’ll have to agree to disagree’.
I like the fact it implies respect but sometimes I think we use it as a way of not exploring the conversation because it’s become too uncomfortable.
The disagreement doesn’t go away because we’ve shut it down. Ending on this sentiment can be even more damaging to relationships. I think the key is to keep talking, respectfully, truly trying to understand where the other person is coming from.
In midwifery, this might mean disagreeing about a particular practice, for instance, optimal cord clamping.
I’m passionate about this and fail to see why every effort is not made for each baby to have their ‘destined’ blood volume.
But I know others disagree and think there are good reasons for sometimes cutting early, including not wanting parents to see resuscitation because it could be frightening. See more about this here.
If I’m talking to someone about this and a conflict arises and I say ‘we’ll have to agree to disagree’ we’ve just avoided the conversation. Neither of us has learnt anything.
But if we both manage to stay present in the conversation, tolerate the discomfort and stay open to the idea of gaining information and understanding, progress is made.
How amazing is that, even though you disagree you walk away respecting each other and understanding more!
It’s tempting to use the phrase sometimes. But I wonder how often we pour water on the kindling when we could do with a fire?
What are your thoughts? Hit reply to let me know.
To kindness in midwifery,
P.S. Remember The Kindness Conference is 11th November 2017 in Bradford