How To Agree and Disagree Politely

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. It’s a wonderful way to disagree and agree politely.

The Words Lincoln Lived By

“This is a book to cherish and share.”—Bill Marriott, CEO, Marriott International, Inc.

“Not only does Griessman give us Lincoln quotes, but he also weaves each one into a little jewel of an essay on that particular subject.” Wayne C. Temple, renowned Lincoln scholar, Illinois State Archives

A stirring, inspirational treasury of quotations from our greatest and most admired president, the book offers rich material for interpretation, reflection, and spiritual guidance.

You will also enjoy Lincoln Speaks To Leaders by Gene Griessman and Pat Williams.

Don’t leave yet. You’ve found a goldmine. Check out additional power phrases and unusual quotations.



Gene Griessman is an internationally known keynote speaker, actor, and communication strategist. His book “TheWords Lincoln Lived By” is in its 23rd printing and “Time Tactics of Very Successful People” is in its 43rd printing. His training video “Lincoln on Communication” is owned by thousands of corporations, libraries, and government organizations. He has spoken at conventions and annual meetings all over the world. To learn more about his presentations, call 404-435-2225. Learn more at Atlanta Speakers Bureau or at his website. His latest book “Lincoln and Obama” has just been released by Audible.
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