Why do we need to beg when we “beg to differ” or offer “all due respect” when we want to
disagree with someone we are conversing with? Is there an explicit reason for such politeness? I think there is.
I think we inherently fear or have an anxiety response for disagreements and the possible conflict that it can cause. Being so polite, when we do disagree, can help us avoid such heated disputes by priming the other, informing them that we are about to disagree and not to be too shocked. A bit like using the ice breaker, “So…, what do you do?”, when starting a conversation, only they are ice breakers for responding when we wish to dispute
what was said or how it was delivered.
If what I am saying is true and you are aware of these polite phrases too, then that may mean that, as humans, we have been implicitly opted into a pact to inform each other of our disagreements. A bit like how individual baboons are implicitly co-opted to warn the troupe of any impending dangers.
At the same time, maybe we are obliged to offer an opt-out to anyone that does not wish to
participate in this holding of each other to account during a conversation (warning of the troupe). Or it might be a way to find out if we are a member of the same troupe. This may explain the common advice that we should avoid talking about politics and religion at a dinner party. i.e. Explicitly agree to stick to small talk and avoid subjects where there is likely to be any impending disagreements and disputes. (No warnings will apply here).
As a participating member of this “troupe”, the “with all due respect…” process that I would like to offer is to firstly Appreciate your contribution, Acknowledge your point and Apologise for having an opposing view. These are the responding 3 As of a 6A rules of engagement process that I believe are inherently built into our fear response brain or also referred to as our Amygdala. The initial 3As are what I believe we use to listen for or filter, when someone initially speaks with us. i.e. listening for Adjustable, Accountable and ultimately, Acceptable Language.
The following diagram attempts to illustrate these two parts of our conversation, fear
response system that, when skillfully and correspondingly applied, can result in creative conversations that are optimised to share open concepts and diverse feedback.