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  • Hello, this is 6 Minute English from BBC Learning English.

  • I'm Sam.

  • And I'm Rob.

  • In this programme, we'll be talking about disagreeing.

  • No, we won't!

  • I think we will, Rob.

  • We're discussing the following: Is it good to disagree?

  • I know, but I feel better for having that little disagreement so that proves it is good to disagree!

  • Well, I hate to disagree, but I think we should explore this subject a little further first in the next six minutes.

  • Err, shouldn't that be five minutes?

  • Rob, you are being pedanticfocusing 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 every week.

  • Yes, a good idea.

  • 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?

  • That's tricky, so I'll have a guess and say b) the Dalai Lama.

  • OK, I'll let you know if that was correct at the end of the program.

  • But whoever said "disagreement is something normal" is probably right.

  • I'm sure we all disagree with someone about something, don't we, Rob?

  • No! Haha, 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.

  • Indeed, but it is a fascinating subject and it's something the BBC Radio 4 programme “A Guide to Disagreeing Betterlooked 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.

  • 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.

  • Right, so Esther explains that bad disagreement is a battleone person tries to take a higher position in the hierarchy.

  • A hierarchy is a way of organising people according to their importance.

  • 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.

  • And contempt in a bad disagreement can be more than just not liking somebody's point of viewtheir perspective on something.

  • It could be thinking someone is a lesser human being.

  • 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."

  • It also suggests speaking truthfully, listening intentlythat 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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'.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • I said it's b) The Dalai Lama.

  • And you were right, well done!

  • Now, if you'll agree, could we recap some of the vocabulary we've discussed in this program?

  • Of course.

  • First of all, I was accused of being pedanticfocusing too much on the small details or formal rules.

  • Then we mentioned hierarchy - this is a way of organising people according to their importance.

  • Contempt is a dislike or lack of respect for something or someone.

  • A point of view describes someone's perspective on something.

  • Your point of view might be different from my point of view.

  • Indeed.

  • And we also mentioned civility, which means polite behaviour.

  • And stagnation means staying the same and not developing.

  • Would you agree, 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, on social media and on our app.

  • Please join us again next time.

  • Bye bye.

  • Goodbye!

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B1 UK TOEIC disagreement disagree rob lama dalai lama

How to disagree better: Listen to 6 Minute English

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    Annie Huang posted on 2020/03/19
Video vocabulary