What You Say If You Disagree With Part Of What Someone Says
by Gene Griessman, Ph.D.
In the movie “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” there’s an intense scene in which the British intelligence officer George Smiley (played by Gary Oldman) confronts the “mole,” a double-agent who has passed secret information to the Soviet Union. (I won’t tell you who the mole is because that would spoil the movie’s ending for you.)
The mole tells Smiley that his people looked for a weakness in Smiley, but could find just one, which the mole describes—Smiley’s love for his wife, who was seduced by another man.
Smiley replies that the mole is right about that, and then adds the words “…to a point.”
In the setting, that caveat—“to a point”—is a powerful qualifier, and in terms of the movie’s story, a game-changer.
So next time you disagree with someone on an important point, but agree with a basic premise, do what Smiley did. Say something like, “You are right…to a point.”
Then say nothing else, unless you are asked to tell what “to a point” means.
It is possible to agree and disagree with the same sentence. George Smiley did it. Try it out in an argument or a negotiation of your own.
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