Disagreeing without becoming disagreeable

Sue Daugherty
Mar 23, 2010


I never heard this phrase until I heard Skip Oliver make a point at Sandusky City Commission meeting.  Before he voiced his position on an issue, he prefaced his statement with this: “I hope that we can disagree without becoming disagreeable.”

text-autospace:none">What a beautiful opening for any statement worthy of meaningful thought and dialogue.  So, tell me…Why do people become so venomous if one person doesn’t agree with what the other person said or stands for?

text-autospace:none">Human resource research proves over and over again that diversity is one of an organization’s greatest assets. The same principle holds true for a community.   It is multiple perspectives that makes for effective problem solving.  Yet we fight opposing positions – instead of embracing them for further consideration and a better solution.  It’s as if people find it more important to “be right”, than to “get it right”.   Think about any issue that is or has been controversial – national health care, social security retirement, merging school systems, who should be president of the United States — and ask yourself if there was “honest” (Honest - defined as worthy of being depended upon, without pretensions, not deceptive or fraudulent) heart-to-heart discussion, without somebody resorting to fear tactics, or uncalled-for personal attack.


text-autospace:none">What will it take for people to evolve to the point where we will no longer tolerate malicious, sabotaging behaviors because they disagree?   Will we ever reach the point to where we value “getting it right” over “being right”?

text-autospace:none">Leadership author Steven Covey has a great principle I wish everyone’s ego would allow them to live by:  “Seek first to understand, then seek to be understood.”

text-autospace:none">If we would do that, we could all disagree without becoming disagreeable… and we’d be much better off as a society.

text-autospace:none">OK, I had my say.  Now I’m interested in hearing yours.





   I whole heartedly back you up on this 100%. It seems to me that Sandusky and the surrounding area have fallen into this habit of lashing out at anything that creates change even it is has no effect on them. It is very important to me to be able to choose what I think is right or wrong for this area and to voice that choice.  Although, I think that we have found it easy to dig our heals in to the ground and name call, hurl accusations, and pound our fists against the keyboard. I now this is going to sound like blame shifting, but this website is a perfect example. I believe it's hard to publicly disagree or agree about a sensitive topic when this website has links such as "Sandusky Regurgitator" outwardly slamming people or organizations under the guise of harmless humor. I fully understand editorials and that they are personal, biased opinions, but you have to admit that some of those opinions have been put into print for no other reason than to destroy someone's reputation or  views on a particular subject. I think it is safe to say that most people in this area agree with you. They are not looking to have hostile relationships with city leaders and each other, but it is easy to fall into the "angry mob" mentality when encouraged by the media. I don't always agree with what the city leadership does. Example: I would like to see developement in the city very much, but Mr. Schwanger brings up some very valid points about protecting the waterfront and it amazes me that the commissioners are not listening. But, I am not going to call the commissioners "corrupt gangsters" and berate them personally in public or through an editorial.  If you watch Mr. Schwanger, he is always professional and I think his concerns are eventually accepted even if the city leadership hates them. My last thought on this is that the name calling and hostile environment hanging over Sandusky is not going away until this newspaper takes the lead and practices what it preaches for the rest of us and that is "tolerance and professionalism". Like it or not, the Sandusky Register has a leadership role in the city and they need to start acting accordingly.

Hope we didn't disagree on too much