I’m quite an opinionated person. I try to remain civil, but I’m sure my endless barrage of hot-takes has led to many of my friends on social media unfollowing me. Every now then, however, an acquaintance will say, “You know, I don’t always agree with you, but I still admire and respect you.”

I’ve always found this phrasing somewhat strange. Why do people feel compelled to point out the fact that they sometimes disagree with me? It should be taken for granted that people will often disagree because everyone is different. We all experience the world in unique ways and we each have developed our own particular point of view.

Agreement vs appreciation

People often seem to think that admiration goes hand in hand with agreement, but I’m not sure that it truly does. For example, if two people you admire have a major disagreement, you may be tempted to think that you must choose between them—that one person is right and one person is wrong and you have to be on the winning team. You may feel that you must abandon your support for the loser.

That’s a strange way to look at the world. If you think that you must be in total agreement with someone in order for them to be worthy of your respect and appreciation, you’re in for a rude awakening. Eventually, you must realize that finding someone you always agree with is almost impossible.

Incidentally, I find it equally strange when people say that they agree with me 100 percent of the time. Even if that’s true (which I doubt), there’s only a matter of time before you find a discrepancy. In fact, I’ve had people tell me, “I always agree with you, but now you said something I disagree with, and now I dislike you.”

That's so bizarre.

Who's right and who's wrong?

Disagreements often intimidate people. They just want everyone to be happy and get anxious whenever discussions get a little heated. But in my opinion, conversations aren’t that interesting if everyone agrees on everything, and no one adds anything new to the conversation.

On the other hand, conversations are even less interesting if people are unwilling to thoughtfully and respectfully engage those they disagree with.

It’s not really about being “right” or “wrong.” No one is ever completely right or wrong. We all have ideas that are based on an inherently limited perspective, and we can broaden that perspective by having honest, respectful conversations.

I personally enjoy hearing opposing views when they’re thoughtful, and I like when people add nuances to my arguments that I hadn’t considered. Because whether I agree with it or not, it expands my perspective. This is essential to improving the way we communicate with each other.

I wish more of us were a little more open-minded about disagreements.