Acceptance Isn’t Agreement

Acceptance is being flexible

“Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and there’s got to be a way through it”

~ Michael J. Fox ~

Many times, I have come to witness a misunderstanding between acceptance and agreement. Just because I accept what someone is telling me, doesn’t mean that I am in agreement. Yet, many people can’t even accept the viewpoint of another person if they don’t agree with it. Why?

Acceptance is just knowing and understanding there is a difference. So people don’t see eye-to-eye with something. What’s wrong with that? Isn’t that what breeds changes? I couldn’t imagine how life would be if everyone agreed on everything.

People do have a difference of opinions. What makes one person right and the other person wrong? Could it be that someone has the wrong facts? Could it be the environment they grew up in that they see things differently? We might not understand the circumstances that could be creating these differences. However, there is some underlying belief that fosters their opinion.

There are times when I do not agree with someone. However, it doesn’t make me right. I try to see their point of view. I’ve even told the person that I accept what they are saying but I do not agree with them. As the conversation continues, I try to explain my position. If the other person says that they don’t agree with me, I acknowledge their disagreement but I will ask them if they accept my point? Amazingly, many of the responses are “NO”.

Consider acceptance as a bridge. It is a bridge to negotiate and resolve your differences. When someone accepts your opinion, you feel that you can openly explain yourself and why you feel the way you do. However, when the person doesn’t accept your opinion, how does that make you feel? Are you willing to discuss it any further? Or does it kind of shut you down?

As a leader, it is important you openly accept the opinions of others. The reason is two-fold. First and foremost, you are establishing trust because they know you are open to their ideas. Secondly, you need to understand their perception of a situation. When you’re trying to build a team, you need to manage the perceptions and help them see it your way. Many times, I have told the person that I’m not sure if I totally agree with them but I accept what you are saying. And if you do see their point of view, let them know. But don’t just leave it there, get back to them, and continue discussions.

Everything is easy when people are in agreement. The challenge occurs when they don’t agree. How do they proceed? They might never agree but soften the conflict by accepting their point of view.


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