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
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
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