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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: How to disagree better: Listen to 6 Minute English

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Sam: Hello. This is 6 Minute English

from BBC Learning English. I'm Sam...

Rob: And I'm Rob.

Sam: In this programme, we'll be

talking about disagreeing.

Rob: No, we won't!

Sam: I think we will, Rob. We're discussing

the following: 'Is it good to disagree?'

Rob: I know, but I feel better for having

that little disagreement - so that proves

it is good to disagree!

Sam: Well, I hate to disagree,

but I think we should explore

this subject a little further

first in the next six minutes...

Rob: Err, shouldn't that be five minutes?

Sam: Rob, you are being pedantic -

focussing too much on the small

details or formal rules.

Maybe we should agree to disagree

and move onto the quiz question

I like to set you every week.

Rob: Yes, a good idea.

Sam: OK. So, do you know which

spiritual leader is famous for saying

"Disagreement is something

normal"? Is it...

a) Pope Francis, b) The Dalai Lama,

or c) Ravi Shankar.

Rob: That's tricky so I'll have a guess

and say b) the Dalai Lama.

Sam: OK, I'll let you know if that was

correct at the end of the programme.

But whoever said

"disagreement is something normal"

is probably right. I'm sure

we all disagree with someone

about something - don't we, Rob?

Rob: No, just joking! Of course

disagreeing is normal - it would

be boring if we agreed

about everything. However,

I guess agreement, on some things,

may have prevented a few wars.

Sam: Indeed, but it is a fascinating

subject and it's something

the BBC Radio 4 programme

'A Guide to Disagreeing Better' looked at.

I think we should hear about

how NOT to disagree

first. This is couples' therapist,

author and speaker Esther Perel,

who knows a thing

or two about that...

Esther Perel: In a battle, you position

yourself in a hierarchy - one is

on top of the other,

and then there is arguing that comes

with a contempt in which it's not

just that I don't accept your point of view,

is that, I actually really think

you're a lesser human being.

Rob: Right, so Esther explains that

bad disagreement is a battle -

one person tries to take a higher

position in the hierarchy. A hierarchy

is a way of organising people

according to their importance.

Sam: So, a disagreement doesn't go well

if one person thinks they're more

important than someone else.

And according to Esther, things also

don't go well if someone has contempt,

which is a dislike or lack of respect

for someone or something.

Rob: And contempt in a bad disagreement

can be more than just not liking

somebody's point

of view - their perspective on something -

it could be thinking

someone is a lesser human being.

Sam: Ouch! That's not nice. Let's think

more now about good disagreement.

The BBC podcast 'Seriously' has listed

some tips for disagreeing better,

including not aiming for the middle

ground - another way

of saying 'compromising'.

Rob: It also suggests speaking truthfully,

listening intently - that means giving all

your attention to what's being said - and

aiming for empathy. But not feeling at the

end of a disagreement that

you have to agree!

Sam: I agree - and I'm sure former

British politician Douglas Alexander

would too. He presented the programme

'A Guide to Disagreeing Better' and

explained why he thought disagreeing

is a good thing...

Douglas Alexander: A couple of decades

I spent as an elected politician

convinced me that

disagreement is necessary if society is to

progress and a society that values civility

over justice and truth would simply be a

recipe for stagnation.

But honest conversations involve

listening intently as well

as speaking truthfully.

Sam: The thoughts of Douglas Alexander

there, who, through his work

as a politician, is convinced that

disagreement is a good thing. He says

we shouldn't just follow the values

of civility - that means polite behaviour.

It's important to challenge

and question thoughts and ideas - not

just be polite and accept them!

Rob: Yes, and if we don't challenge things

and search for truth and justice, he feels

it would lead to stagnation - staying

the same and not developing.

The verb form is 'to stagnate'...

Sam: But, he does say that when

we discuss things and disagree

we must be honest, listen to the other

person intently, and speak truthfully.

But I would add that this

should be done politely

and with respect.

Rob: Well, Sam, I've been listening to you

intently, and if I'm honest, I think it's

about time you gave me

the answer to today's question.

Sam: We can agree on that, Rob!

So, earlier I asked you if you knew

which spiritual leader

is famous for saying "Disagreement is

something normal"? Is it...

a) Pope Francis, b) The Dalai Lama, or c)

Ravi Shankar. And, Rob, what did you say?

Rob: I said it's b) The Dalai Lama.

Sam: And you were right - well done! Now,

if you'll agree, could we recap some of the

vocabulary we've discussed

in this programme?

Rob: Of course. First of all, I was accused

of being pedantic - focussing too much

on the small details or formal rules.

Then we mentioned hierarchy - this

is a way of organising

people according to their importance.

Sam: Contempt is a dislike or lack of

respect for something or someone.

Rob: A point of view describes someone's

perspective on something.

Your point of view might be

different from my point of view.

Sam: Indeed. And we also mentioned

civility, which means polite behaviour.

Rob: And stagnation means staying

the same and not developing.

Would you agree, Sam?

Sam: You are right, Rob - and that brings

us to the end of our discussion

about disagreeing!

Don't forget you can find lots more

learning English materials on our website

at bbclearningenglish.com,

on social media and on our app. Please

join us again next time. Bye bye.

Rob: Goodbye.

The Description of How to disagree better: Listen to 6 Minute English