Although “agreement” is often seen as a naturally good thing, it has also come to evoke suspicion among those who see a press for agreement, centrist attitudes and moderation being used to advance ulterior motives - e.g., crony capitalism.

Within the conflict resolution tradition, reaching some kind of settlement on a point or “agreement” to an action is seen as a primary goal of engagement. In a similar way, deliberation practices aim for some kind of resolution of a problem or question. These goals stand in contrast to dialogue practice, which seeks understanding of another’s perspective and even an appreciation of common ground, without necessitating any degree of agreement.  

Given our cultural value on visible results and outcomes, the absence of “agreement” makes dialogue seem for some non-intuitive and “impractical” - even a waste of time.  


-Is “agreement” something that interests you generally in conversation - or something that doesn’t seem that important? 

-Generally speaking, how important is agreement as an end-goal to you in a conversation across differences a (e.g., reaching some kind of resolution)? If it’s important, why?  If it’s not so important, what are the goals for conversation that matter more to you?

 -When is agreement an especially important goal for conversation vs. perhaps less important?



Heidi Weaver-Smith

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