Deconstructing meaningful conversation

As part of my engineering undergrad studies in the early 1990s, we examined the forces exerted on the individual components of various structures. I distinctly remember the first time we deconstructed the force vectors within the structure of a bridge. Some pieces are in tension, pulled so taut you wonder how they don’t snap. Others are compressed under such force, you might expect them to crumple like a soda can underfoot. Together, these opposing forces allow materials to stretch across an otherwise irreconcilable gap.

Part of the trick is finding materials that are strong enough to withstand the pressure. Friendships based on mutual trust and respect are rare and precious. Once a difficult or contentious topic is broached, leaving it open and unresolved is uncomfortable. But within a committed friendship, one friend does not dominate the other. One recognizes the value, sometimes as sight unseen, hidden within the heart of the other. “I might not agree with you, friend, but I appreciate our friendship. Let’s agree to disagree.”

I mentioned this word picture to a friend, and got this nugget in response. “Bridges are built for transit, not for housing. No one lives on a bridge.”

How do you approach disagreements? Are you able to voice your opinion and maintain the friendship? I will be the first to admit, I don’t like conflict or confrontation. But I’ve learned to let people in, just a little, to a place where they might hear some opposing opinion. How about you? Let me know in the comment section.