Disagree or Disagreeable – February 2009

February 26, 2009 by  
Filed under Articles

A friend, let’s call her Jane, shared something with me recently that turned out to be quite a good lesson for me so I’d like to share it with you.

She and one of her neighbors have had a pretty strong difference of opinion on something.  It was one of those “neighborhood” issues.  I’m sure you know what I mean:  “I want shrubs not an ugly fence”, “I know you want a spotlight for security but it shines in my bedroom”-that type of thing.  Their difference of opinion was actually quite strong and their disagreements sometimes got pretty heated.  As a result, they weren’t exactly the best of friends.  In fact, they barely spoke.

The neighbor recently got a new car.  Jane looked out one evening and thought she saw the light on inside the car.  She called the neighbor and said, “I’m not sure I’m seeing this right but it looks like the light is on inside your new car.  I just wanted to call to let you know because I surely don’t want you to get up in the morning to a dead battery.”  The neighbor curtly assured her that since she has just gotten home the light just hadn’t gone out yet.

After about 20 minutes, Jane’s phone rang.  It was the neighbor.  “I just wanted to thank you.  You were absolutely right, the light was on.  If you hadn’t have called I would have had a dead battery come morning.”  Jane simply replied, “I’m so glad I could help.  After all, we are neighbors, I’m sure you would have done the same for me.”  After a short silence the neighbor quietly said, “Yes, yes, I would.”

When Jane first told me that I thought that was a very nice thing that she did and congratulated her for ‘taking the high road’.  However, over the next week I experienced just how difficult it can be to take the high road.  Since Jane shared her story, I have been “wronged” several times.  Minor things, to be sure but I still felt that whatever the action was it was clearly “wrong”.  In a flash, Jane’s approach jumped to my mind.  I realized how difficult it is to disagree with what someone does without being disagreeable back.  It’s not easy to respond with understanding and say, “I’m sure you would do the same for me.”

Why not try it yourself?  You may be surprised to see how many times you “fight” with someone in your head (wasting precious energy).  What would it take to accept that you disagree over one issue yet still respond with neighborly caring.

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