I recently looked up the definition of 'oxymoron'.
1. (Rhetoric). A figure of speech in which a pair of opposed or markedly contradictory terms are placed in conjunction for emphasis.
2. More generally: a contradiction in terms.
(Source: Oxford English Dictionary)I had previously thought that the definition of an oxymorons was (2.) a self-contradiction. However, in fact an oxymoron, in the older sense (1.) is the concatenation of two concepts which are almost opposite. The intersection of two opposed concepts is considerably more precise a concept than the intersection of two similar concepts.
On a similar track I've been struggling for some time on how to effectively disagree. Disagreeing when best done may be a bit like an oxymoron; it allows the common ground to be specified more exactly.
Disagreeing effectively is pretty important, especially in the case of complex issues where a degree of consensus is important. People may want to disagree effectively, because they want to
- understand each other better;
- get to the bottom of things;
- come to a collective or consensual decision is order to take collective action.
Disagreeing is difficult to pull off for a number of reasons. Mostly this is because people feel threatened if you disagree. That is because individuals' identity or self-worth is often wrapped up with what you agree or disagree about. If you attack their arguments, you are often felt as if you are attacking the person themselves.
A second and related argument is that broad, imprecise, concepts are often understood differently by different people. So what you are attacking might be quite different from what is being defended. (Tongue in cheek...) ...I'm often struck by how rubbish other people's arguments are, and how I have much superior arguments. But if people were to look at my own expressed work, they might similarly criticize it. We are comparing our own mental representation of our ideas to our understanding of someone else's expression of their ideas. Both the saying and the listening are opportunities for misunderstanding however good the original idea.
Agreeing is perhaps a way of being simple. The content of political agreement e.g. in the case of voting for a particular party might be broadly 'forget about the details the key point is X': where X might be 'we want broadly more/less government/social support'.
Disagreeing is perhaps a way of being precise. So if you are 'being more precise' then say so: you are not attacking them, but rather providing an alternative view that can give a more exact crossover.
Disagreeing is also sometimes a way of generating a useful alternative representation of a problem. If your representation of a problem is alternative, then just say so. In this case, it behooves you to express yourself well. The easiest way is to appeal to more general thoughts
For these reasons and more the best way to disagree according to 'how to win friends and influence people' is not to do it at all. But there remains some benefit to argument and critique; it makes our arguments more precise and more solid.
How to argue and critique given time constraints is another important question. Perhaps, then express the argument that is being made and make a single comment to it. This is positive and win/win for both parties.