If I were to list phrases that I think should really be wiped out of our collective vocabulary, “Let’s agree to disagree,” would probably be at the top of that list. It’s an awful and useless phrase. It doesn’t actually mean anything. It’s just a “time out” or “truce!” for grownups. It’s a way of showing that you value keeping peace and being polite over being right.
To my knowledge, this phrase was developed to handle situations like this:
Me: “Taco Bell is disgusting”
Friend: “No, Taco Bell is amazing”
Me: “Seriously? Like how can you like Taco Bell? It’s not even food.”
Friend: “Taco Bell is cheap and delicious and they make their beans fresh every day! “
Me: “Hey, let’s just agree to disagree.”
See what I did there? I didn’t want to talk about Taco Bell anymore because it was obviously getting heated, so I ended the conversation with “let’s agree to disagree” because I didn’t want to say, “I’m tired of your voice” or “ok then” or – nothing. I probably could have just said nothing and that would have been cool too.
Anyway. The above use, while annoying, is generally harmless. But that’s not how it’s often used. People seem to think this phrase is some sort of safe word for all debate when things start to get uncomfortable for them. People pull out the old, “let’s agree to disagree” in some pretty serious discussions and it’s like boom – argument is over.