Don’t Be an Echo Chamber… Please Disagree!

Key Point: Over my years as a leader, I’ve come to appreciate the incredible value of constructive disagreement and conflict. When you have people around you who care enough to present a viewpoint that helps an idea evolve or makes a decision better because of a debate, everyone usually wins. On the other hand, when people become passive or worse, ambivalent, to constructive conflict, we will likely run into difficulty. It is vital that we embrace disagreement as a way to improve thinking and the quality of an outcome. Do you really embrace disagreement and constructive conflict? What do you do to create a safe and positive environment for opposing viewpoints?

Most people instinctively avoid conflict, but as Margaret Heffernan shows us in this embedded TED Talks video, good disagreement is central to progress. She illustrates (sometimes counter intuitively) how the best partners aren’t echo chambers… And how great research teams, relationships and businesses allow people to deeply disagree.

 

 Character Move:

  1. Find a window to watch Heffernan’s relatively short 12-minute TED Talks video and honestly evaluate how much you promote honest dialogue and disagreement on ideas or propositions.
  2. Spend more time asking versus telling. People are smart. They will know if you are genuinely interested in honest debate versus seeking unedited approval.
  3. Do not punish people when they express a view you don’t like, (for example, don’t get mad, become defensive, show how hurt you are, etc). They will soon realize that having any disagreement with you isn’t worth the “pain” associated with the conflict.
  4. The worse, and potentially dangerous thing is an environment where people are not capable of having constructive conflict. The outcome is that ultimately bad decisions will be made.
  5. Stand up and learn how to constructively disagree. Celebrate better decisions that emerge from healthy, constructive conflict.

No echo chamber in The Triangle,

Lorne

 

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