I find that there is a clear distinction between understanding and agreeing. These two terms may seem related, yet that is not the case.
When another person offers me her perspective and it’s totally different than mine, what would be my response? I may feel resentment, defensiveness, and rejection, but none of these reactions allow for a connection. Thus, while I may disagree with the opinion offered, I seek to understand the other party’s point of view. Granted, the other person may be aggressive in the way they present their view – as if it’s the absolute truth, but I realize that it is only their opinion, nothing more, nothing less. I can honor it without submitting.
To Illustrate I’ll use a radical example.
I can say that I understand the German people who supported the Nazis during WWII. How come? Given my Jewish roots I carry a lot of wounding when it comes to the Holocaust.
What I understand is that those Germans were a broken people after WWI; that Hitler gave them a sense of pride and hope; that hating Jews as a common cause was already a seed planted years prior by the church; thus creating fertile ground for things to come. I can understand all that and then some, but I still totally disagree with words spoken and actions taken. Yet, by understanding I am creating an open channel for communication, whilst if I reject the other side right at the start, we disengage and that usually leads to hostility of one sort of another. As Indira Gandhi once said, you cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.
Understanding and agreeing, are not one and the same. I may hear the other party and disagree, but I can always strive to understand.