Agreement Through Intimidation

“I agree with you… but/and…”

When I agree because I’m afraid to disagree, I’m exercising deceit as a defense in response to fear.

I get it – sometimes I feel that I must lie in order to preserve what feels to me like a relationship in a delicate condition. Or maybe I feel that if I tell the truth, someone dear to me might be harmed. Or maybe I DON’T say something for the same reason.

Agreement through intimidation is not agreement – it is defense.

What am I defending and why?

“Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.” Bible (KJB)

We in the West have a rich history of agreement by intimidation. It’s even in our religious books. Only in places where there is a sense of freedom of speech can one feel safe enough to disagree. Even then, underlying agendas may play out, forcing disagreement to look more like agreement by intimidation. For example…

Marriage is a lot of things – a source of love, security, the joy of children, but it’s also an interpersonal battlefield, and it’s not hard to see why: Take two disparate people, toss them together in often-confined quarters, add the stresses of money and kids – now lather, rinse, repeat for the rest of your natural life. What could go wrong? (Jeffrey Kluger)

Agreement by intimidation is common in relationships. Why? Because disagreement has the APPEARANCE of disapproval and rejection – the opposite of safety, love, and affection. So, I defend against rejection by acquiescing or faking agreement – “go along to get along.”

The Downside of Agreement

When fear of disagreement (rejection) rears its head, I can find myself in a downward spiral of narrowing options. That’s the downside of agreement by coercion. When others agree with me because they are afraid to disagree with me, they help me build a circular thinking prison stronger than iron bars. When everyone around you agrees with you, you’re living in a bubble of self-deceit amplified by acquiescence.

Disagreement is useful in that it can point out blind spots and offer options.

Disagreement is never negative if it frees the mind from defending a lack of understanding.

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