I Don’t DisagreePosted: March 10, 2015 Filed under: Communication 3 Comments
I’ve been hearing this phrase a lot recently and I dislike it. But why? It’s a double negative and also strikes me as a bit of a cop out. It clearly doesn’t mean “I agree.” Rather, I think it only eliminates “I disagree” from a range of opinions. Alternatives left on the table include “I partially agree,” “I’m undecided,” “I partially disagree,” or any number of other variations.
What bothers me most is when an explanation doesn’t follow. This sentence cries out to be finished with another clause that begins “…but…” and ends with an explanation. Left as is, it effectively closes off the conversation. Instead, I would prefer to continue a dialogue that would reveal points of agreement and disagreement, eventually leading to consensus. It seems like the person saying “I don’t disagree” expects me to keep offering ideas until, by some stroke of luck, they finally agree or disagree. It feels like a tool of passive aggression.
Do you agree?
I don’t disagree. ;-D
I don’t disagree, Mark. All kidding aside, I agree with you 100%. Everyone has some accountability to gain clarification or gather the inputs necessary to make an informed decision.
I agree with some of your observations and truly appreciate you musing on this, as I have used this phrase without much thought. In reflecting on it, I see one particular use of the phrase that may be helpful. In some situations and in some cultures sharpening a dialog to disagreement is not acceptable. Japanese, for example, put a premium on maintaining social “face.” In some conversational settings using this phrase might maintain a desired level of peace/flow/face to allow the dialog to continue. It certainly isn’t the most direct path to clarifying agreement or disagreement, but it may facilitate getting there at some point.