Friday, 22 December 2017

Disagreeing without being disagreeable

Disagreeing without being disagreeable in AA is an acquired skill, and after much trial and error, I have made a little progress. Here are some tips I've picked up over the years on how to do this. The list is not exhaustive.

I present and explain. It's not my job to convince or persuade. Either you agree or you don't. That choice is yours.

It's reasonable to cite years of relevant experience to back up a view.

It's not reasonable to cite false authority, for instance, 'I once thought as you do, but now I've learned better.' If one moves from position A to position B, that does not mean that position B is necessarily right. One can just as well move from being right to being wrong.

I try to not insinuate false motives, contend the stupidity or malovelence of others, or extrapolate the other person's view (e.g. 'That kind of talk kills newcomers.')

There is nothing wrong with opinions based on experience, as an opinion is merely a view arrived at through examination and analysis of a situation, and God gave us brains to use. I try to avoid opinions based on pure theory or speculation, however.

I try to recognise that, within AA, there is no 'one true church'. In AA, reasonable people of good will disagree and disagree legitimately both on detail and on some major conceptual questions. A cursory investigation of differences of view and practice between Akron, New York, and Cleveland (and within those locations) in early AA will support this.

I remember that many people I disagree with on minor and major points are staying sober, living fruitfully, and helping many people.

I try to talk about my experience and views. I try to not talk about you under the figleaf of talking about me, for instance 'If I were to believe XYZ, that would mean that ABC'.

I try to avoid discussion of politics, religion, 'two-fold vs three-fold', 'recovering vs recovered', 'ongoing inventory: Step Ten or Step Four', and other contentious questions.

In general, I try to avoid being combative or vexatious, and try to avoid personalisation of the discussion.

'Does it need to be said, does it need to be said by me, does it need to be said right now?'

KMBFMS: keeping my big, fat mouth shut

MMOFB: minding my own ... business

WAIT: why am I talking?

WAIST: why am I still talking?


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