DRMacIver’s Notebook: Notes on Disagreement

“If you are disagreeing with someone you don’t trust and don’t value (e.g. because you think they’re a jerk or out to get you), your disagreement is adversarial. Your goal is to manipulate them into a desired outcome, not resolve the disagreement per se. You don’t need them to agree with you, just to do what you want.”

—David R. MacIver, “Notes on Disagreement.” drmaciver.com. June 13, 2019.

Never quite thought about it this way before, but the questions of trust and value are central to every relationship.

There are many reasons to not trust someone. If someone is selfish, they will almost always put their interests above others. If someone is incompetent, you cannot trust them to do what they say they will do. If someone doesn’t like you, then you cannot trust them to pursue your best interests.

Most of us probably don’t think about it systemically. If we decide to trust someone and they habitually violate or seriously violate our trust, then we don’t trust them again. If we are in a low trust environment, where we have extended trust to different people and had them violate it, then we learn to be less trusting of other people in general. Some is true when someone we have extended trust to keeps that trust and when we live in high trust environments we learn to be more trusting.

There is also the question of instrumental value. Why spend time disagreeing with people of no consequence in your life? Why spend time in an adversarial relationship with someone who doesn’t add value to your life?

Trust and value can be a useful lens to think about not only disagreements, but relationships as well.

F*ck [Fuck] you. Pay me.


I was reminded of this talk recently. Thought it was worth adding since the advice is timeless, even though it is relatively old. The only thing I don’t like is the use of the word, “fuck,” and the cutesy obscured spelling of it. Here’s an idea, if the word “fuck,” is inappropriate, don’t use the word. But, it is most definitely appropriate here. Get rid of the asterisk. [Hey, just realized that asterick is from the Greek aster, meaning star, which is also in disaster. Don’t know why I never thought of that before.]

If someone asks you whether you are willing to do something for free for the “exposure,” “experience,” or some other line of nonsense, tell them, “No.” If you want to volunteer your skills in your community, fine. But, don’t volunteer to work jobs for free. Doing so implies you do not believe what you do has value. Everyone does work of value. Get paid for it.

Oh, and Mike Monteiro has a new book out for pre-order via Amazon, the only way you can get it.