Monday, August 10, 2015

Agree to disagree

Life would have been far easier for me but for that fact that, from childhood, I had developed a quaint notion that I should not say a thing unless I really meant it. Apparently, there are fine nuances to the idea and it is quite all right to say what you do not mean in what are called 'social circumstances'. Fine, or even coarse, nuances totally escape me - and, to this day, if you used the word nuance in tandem with anything, I faint away from fear - and, thus, I am socially inept enough to consider applying for a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.

One of the major problems I have had is with this "Agree to Disagree" business. What exactly do people mean when they say it? Do they mean that your opinion is different from mine, and I agree that both opinions may be valid? Or do they just mean that both of us agree in considering each other fools because the other disagrees? Or is it the more neutral thing of let us go on to something else and leave this argument behind us?

People say that it is the last thing that is meant by this fine phrase. My experience, though, is that this 'moving on' hardly ever happens. If you are sitting around discussing whether the Greeks should have said "Yes" instead of "No" or the vice versa, you will find that, after reaching the point of "Agree to Disagree", the meeting promptly adjourns - unless, of course, there is a lot of vodka left in your glasses. AND, after the adjournment, each party who agreed to disagree, buttonholes someone else in the group and waxes eloquent on why the other is such a fool for holding on to his stupid opinion so mulishly. In fact, hitherto, I have found that, when anyone in my vicinity agrees to disagree, it is a red light for me and I should gulp down my drink and flee the place, lest I be buttonholed by one of the two chaps and be lectured on the absolute asininity of the other...unless I, too, choose to agree to disagree.

The thing probably works when it is one of the guys who has to take action and the other guy is merely poking his nose into the affair - either because he loves poking his nose into other people's affairs or because he has been invited to do so (Yeah! There are people who SEEK advice and then argue with the advice) or because he is paid to do so (What do you think happens in Companies?). In all these cases, the 'agree to disagree' puts an end to the talk-talk, leaving the guy who is to take action firmly confident about what to do - the exact opposite of what was being advised (REALLY? You think not? Then why do you suppose there was an argument, if this guy was in agreement with the other? AND, if he did not WIN the argument by words, he is obviously going to win it by discarding the advice).

The funniest episodes happen when a third party tries to conciliate the warring duo with this "Agree to Disagree" thing. Yes, most times, it works much like the normal version where one of the two springs this magic phrase. (Except that, when the two victims, who got buttonholed by the warring parties, exchange notes they will find a surprising unanimity in the fact that both parties are convinced that, but for the idiotic intervention by the 'conciliator', they would have comprehensively defeated the other person's arguments.) In some cases, though, conciliators can be quite hilarious.

As it happened once, when I was in the back-seat of a car with the 'conciliator' when we hit a T junction. The driver and the guy sitting beside him were vehemently arguing about the way forward. The driver was sure we had to turn left; the other guy equally as convinced that right was the way to go. When the argument got too heated, up pops our conciliator - "Guys! Why don't you just agree to disagree?" Exactly where would that take us?

Anyway, the one thing I have gleaned is that agreeing to disagree can happen only in arguments that are of no import to at least one, if not both, of the participants. When it happens in any other circumstance, you are stranded on a road to nowhere.

P.S: Yes! I know! Been there, done this once before in Phrases and Meanings but, sometimes, I find that even my verbosity has not covered all that I want to say!

30 comments:

  1. You have arrived at a perfect conclusion! Never agree to disagree when faced with a real-life dilemma of where to turn. Just make a choice and turn in that direction, the path will probably lead you to your destination, if it doesn't just turn around and turn in the other direction.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I agree with your conclusion. When the matter is not important directly -- it is an opinion, a religious or political view that does not directly affect me, I will honour your opinion even if I have a divergent one and move on. I guess we agree to disagree where we place our relationship above the disagreement that is unlikely to resolve any time soon. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Rachna! That's the perfect way to handle a disagreement.

      Delete
  3. Wonderful and thoughtful as always!
    The T junction illustration aptly inserted..
    A great read , Suresh:)

    ReplyDelete
  4. What can I say, Suresh? Wodehousian? Pickwickian? You have a sense of humor that not only brings smiles to the faces of your grateful readers but also encourages them to think. Yeah, I too have agreed to disagree on a few occasions, more often than not to prevent the argument stretching on, and obviously not wanting to prove how big a fool the other one is!! Your conclusion is absolutely spot on, stranded in the middle of nowhere is not something I would want to be...

    ReplyDelete
  5. Your last para is the final verdict.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I think it's better to choose a direction and stick to it. The one who likes the opposite direction, let him go for that. Otherwise, as you have mentioned, it doesn't lead to anywhere...

    A great read it was, Suresh...enjoyed it a lot... :-)

    ReplyDelete
  7. hehehhe....Epic...!! like the shaadi ka ladoo...khao toh pachtau, na khao toh bhi pachtao....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. :P Disagree :) With the metaphor. Nahin Khaya, nahin pachtaya :)

      Delete
  8. hahaha... an interesting take...enjoyed reading it... :-)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hahaha, good stuff mate. And very insightful observation too!

    ReplyDelete
  10. hahahaha! True CS. Agree to disagree is one of those phrases men learnt from women, that are meant to terminate any discussion.

    ReplyDelete
  11. 'Agree to disagree' I think is a polite way of saying - okay, enough talk, I know I am right but I don't want to argue with you :)
    If you are a contender for social ineptness, I am definitely going to give you some strong competition !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a world! Can't go anywhere or do anything without competition creeping in :P

      Delete
  12. I too think that 3rd definition is what people mean normally.
    Which way did you go finally in the 2nd last para?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Argued till we eventually ended up taking the wrong turn :)

      Delete
  13. HA HA .. Very Humorous and Insightful too. Keep writing.

    Amit lamba
    Amit lamba

    ReplyDelete