Power in Disagreement

These last two weeks in Europe and Washington DC, I’ve been in discussions with people that disagreed with my point of view and were willing to share their strong beliefs against it. Below are a few recent examples:

Doom and Gloom Speaker 
Last week, I listened to a speaker with a negative approach to solving the food security issue. Although I disagreed with his point of view, I took seven pages of notes. He opened my mind, made me seek validation and challenged me to understand the thinking behind his behavior and position. I am less set on one solution (my solution), but more sensitive, more globally minded and wiser in my answers. However, my principles hold truer than ever, but my influence could be more effective.

Emerging Talent
In preparation for a presentation last week, an emerging talent in our company deeply vested in her positions did not connect with my main points. Her body language was so strong that she led me to ask, “You don’t agree do you?” She willingly spoke up and openly shared what wasn’t working. I walked away with a wider view on global food security and had a balcony moment about whether I was creating the right micro-environment or culture around me that challenges my opinions.

Politicians
This week, I was challenged by the realities of timelines and politics in Washington. My idea of urgency is four months from now, but they believe 12-24 months is urgent. They are more realistic and experienced with government processes and timelines, and that left me with a new reality to have better preparation.

There’s power in disagreement to strengthen your belief system. Consider the following :

  1. Complete disagreement: Get into environments more often where people completely disagree with you.
  2. Reflect, Write, Consider: Before jumping to defend, let it rest for one day. Being able to listen without an opportunity to debate allows for reflection.
  3. Micro-environment: Create a welcoming micro-environment that provokes disagreements and encourages you to question the other side of the argument.
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3 thoughts on “Power in Disagreement

  1. Yes, disagreement is good and can be very enlightening. I have, finally, come to learn that it is not that people want to inherently disagree or ignore, but in how the message or point to be made is delivered. When done correctly, continued engagement in the discussion can be done so that everyone involved is learning and engaging.

    Once we believe we have all the right answers, all our answers will be wrong.

  2. Great truth and eye opener. Often we want to go with “our” truth and seek for ideas that are commonly shared, this is a good start but the great value comes with the difference between the parties.

  3. No one has perfect knowledge. We go so far and at some point we simply don’t know. Admitting we don’t know is a tremendous challenge for some, perhaps most, of us.

    In my experience when I don’t understand or strongly disagree with someone it’s because I don’t have all the information they have used in their thought process. Once I take the time to ask, listen and learn I can come closer to understanding how they arrived at their reality. I still may not agree with their conclusions, but I understand and that moves us a long way toward acceptance or resolution. The exchange also helps me see what pieces of information I have that they seem not to have.

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