Growing up, we both heard these phrases from our parents: “Be nice, Donna, and get along.” David heard “you have to learn to share,” and “don’t fight” was a favorite. Our parents did the best they could, and what many of these phrases taught us was to be overly agreeable.
We humans are drawn to connect and get along. It was essential for our ancestors to agree to work together to build thriving communities. However, there is a downside to being overly agreeable. If you are desperate for agreement, you can become entrenched in the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT). When playing the Rescuer role in the DDT, you may readily agree to avoid a conflict. If you slip into the Victim role, you may feel powerless to share your voice and experience, assuming no one is listening.
If you default to always agreeing, you may withhold your opinion, eventually driving your perspective underground. Even though you don’t talk about it, your different perspective will still be there and will leak out in other ways. For example, you might encourage others to speak up for you. Or, you might mince your words and not be clear about your point-of-view. You may also be quick to compromise to not rock the boat.
It is okay to be pleasing and agreeable at times, but it can also have the opposite effect. Research has shown that if you are overly agreeable to a particular point-of-view, you may become part of a group of like-minded people which can lead to “choosing-up sides” and criticizing those who don’t think the same way. All this can lead to polarization and more disagreement!
Here are a few more ways being overly agreeable may show up. You may:
- Develop poor boundaries and feel it is your duty to do what everyone else wants,
- Attract Persecutors who are willing and able to abuse you,
- Submit to authority and deny your needs and gifts, and
- Relinquish your own creativity and sense of purpose and direction.
Our world is being disrupted in every corner of society. Incorporating different perspectives in our cultures is essential and that means hearing your voice also. If, as a society, we develop sophisticated ways to simply agree with the norm, we may follow the leaders with the loudest voices, so not to cause more disruption.
We believe one of the most important things you can do is to acknowledge your Creator essence and to think for yourself—speak up and own your experience and point-of-view.
You may not identify with this topic because you don’t have trouble speaking up and sharing your opinion. For many however, it is risky to speak up in environments that do not acknowledge or appreciate diversity of experiences and opinions.
You can support those who feel it is risky to disagree by giving them your attention, by deeply listening to them. The second thing you can do is to be a champion for trusting environments where people are encouraged to speak up and share their wisdom and experience. Ask yourself:
- How do I behave in the presence of another when they are thinking and sharing?
- How do others behave in my presence when they are thinking and sharing?
- Does my presence encourage them to be the best version of themselves, regardless of any differences between us?
- Do I consider the person who is sharing my equal? Do I acknowledge and recognize their Creator essence?
Let us all, together, escape the deception of being overly agreeable and learn to listen to one another, as co-Creators, cultivating environments where we can understand and grow together.