I prefer speaking with people who think differently than I do. It’s more interesting. It’s more challenging. It makes me think. It opens my eyes to other perspectives. And sometimes it makes me angry. But it’s all 100% healthy.
And unfortunately our society – in business and politics, and especially on social media – is becoming one where we aggressively slap down those who disagree with us, and gravitate towards people and voices that tell us what we want to hear.
We see it everywhere. So many of us tend to watch the news shows that spout out ideas consistent with our own. Many hard line conservatives watch Fox News exclusively. And many hard line liberals are only happy when watching people like Rachel Maddow on MSNBC. More and more business leaders seem to want to surround themselves with aides who are going to agree with them, reinforce their already-formed ideas, and act like sycophants. And heaven help the person who dives into the social media space and suggests an idea that conflicts with main-stream think. You’ll get shouted down and virtually attacked. I recently had a friend post something on Facebook that was complaining about something. And I responded, agreeing with their point, but suggesting another way of looking at it. The next time I went online, I had been “unfriended.” Sad…
This is unhealthy, for all of us.
The distinction here is that we can and should be able to disagree with each other, without attacking each other. We can and should be able to disagree without being disagreeable. Earlier this morning I said goodbye to a dear friend who is moving to another city. He’s been a buddy for years now, and we disagree on lots of issues. We’re pretty far apart on most issues (although not as far apart as it sometimes might seem to someone listening to us debate.) And I’ll miss the regular opportunities to discuss, to debate, to think about things from his perspective. He challenged me. Sometimes he made me realize I was wrong. Sometimes his argument reinforced my beliefs. And I think I did the same for him. Our conversations were fun, sometimes frustrating, but never boring. There were many times that our conversations appeared to be heading towards a nasty eruption. But they never did. Because we found ways to discuss important issues without making it personal, and without attacking each other. We disagreed often, but were never disagreeable.
We’ll all be better off, and the business and political discourse in the United States will be far more productive, if we all learn to listen to people who have an opinion different from our own. We can listen to each other, and when necessary agree to disagree, without allowing the conversation to become nasty.
So you and I disagree? That’s great. You are the one I want to chat with at the cocktail party. Let’s make each other think. And when the conversation is over, smile, shake hands and move on.
I look forward to speaking with you.
Have a great day.
The Latimer Group currently offers a workshop for our clients on Listening Skills and Followership. It would be our privilege to have you and your team join the discussion. To learn more, e-mail us at info@TheLatimerGroup.com