Objecting Vs Disagreeing

Objecting and disagreeing are very common and simple concepts it seems, but ask yourself to define the difference between the two and I think you will find it quite difficult.

It is only recently that I have been able to succinctly separate them and indeed, I believe, such knowledge and application will create a phase transition or paradigm shift in how we relate.

Now I know you will say “of course” when you read my definition but please know that you did not know to apply this principle in your daily conversation, and really, that is the true measure of knowledge ie when it is applied, I believe.

Objecting and disagreeing are used during conversations but more importantly in a dispute during a conversation or discussion. So here is the kicker, we disagree with the content or subject of the conversation and we object to the behavior or how the content is delivered. Again we object to the behavior (objectionable behavior) and we disagree with the content.

So what does this mean? Well, it means that we can now split our conversations or discussions into two parts and have them running in parallel, by identifying the content and the delivery of that content. We can set up agreements on what we will accept and what we will object to when we are participating in a conversation.

Personally, my brother and I have been doing this for some 30 years but I have never been able to explain it as simply as this. We have formed intricate, detailed agreements on how we will deliver information during our conversation. And we have developed a process that allows us to object in an efficient way ie direct and in real-time.

From the giving of a caution such as “careful” or “slowly” to objecting, to stopping the discussion, thereby calling out one’s behavior until it is resolved. Using acknowledgments and apologies to restore a balance in the conversation and ultimately agreeing to use an acceptable apology if one is responsible for a conversation ceasing due to one’s behavior.

This process includes objecting in real-time and direct, rather than complain after the fact and indirectly or gossiping behind our back. But I must emphasize here that we have only been able to do this by getting our agreements on dealing with such behavior, upfront.

Ultimately by forming such agreements we are assigning each other to be responsible for our behavior and anger specifically. Responsible, not by what we say that may have ticked them off but by what we didn’t say that would have helped keep the other cool calm and collected.

So if a conversation or discussion is stopped due to one’s objectionable behavior it is quite likely that both will need to apologise for allowing such behavior to occur and allowing it to get out of control.

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