Why You Don’t Have to Agree to Respect and Support Someone Else

It took Teresa and I a while to get on the same page about homeschooling our kids.

Homeschooling is something that she’s very passionate about and deeply committed to. She enjoys creating a home full of learning experiences, spending time with the kids, and educating them during their most formative years. From the earliest days of our marriage, she’s been committed to homeschooling our children.

I, on the other hand, was skeptical at first. It took me a while to fully embrace our homeschool decision. Frankly, while I supported it early on, it was with great hesitation. Over time, I have been able to see the many benefits that it has brought to our family.

Over the years, especially in those early years of skepticism, I have had to continually remind Teresa that while I didn’t fully agree with the decision we made together, I did fully support it.

You Don't Have to Agree to Respect and Support - David DeWolf

Too often we confuse support with agreement. You and I can support decisions that we don’t wholeheartedly agree with. It requires a greater purpose. It requires a commitment to a team, or an overarching objective, that supersedes the decision itself.

In business, we call this alignment. Fully aligned teams trust their leader to have the overarching objective and good of the team in mind. After engaging in healthy debate, a decision is made and the team moves forward, fully committed.

Respect is similar. I can respect your opinion without agreeing with it.

Someone that I’ve been very close to for years has been adamant lately that I don’t respect him. He’s confusing the fact that I disagree with him about a few, albeit very important, topics, to mean that I don’t respect him. Nothing could be further from the truth. I respect him and I respect the decision he has made for his own life (it’s not a matter of ethics or morals, just a philosophical difference on how he wants to live his life).

Unfortunately, this friend wants me to agree with him. He wants me to affirm that I would make the same decisions and to tell him that he’s “right.”

In some things in life, there is no “right” or “wrong.” There’s just different.

There’s more than one play that a coach can call when a winning shot is needed. There’s more than one way to school your children. There’s more than one way to market your services.

Don’t confuse moral from amoral decisions. Don’t confuse support and respect for agreement.


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