Disagreement: A Dying Art
When reporter Bret Stephens accepted the Lowry Award for excellence in Australian Foreign Affairs Journalism, he gave a talk on a subject dear to his heart: disagreement.(http://nyti.ms/2xCl4oA)
Stephens noted that the words I agree form the basis of community. But the words I disagree “define our individuality, give us our freedom, enjoin our tolerance, enlarge our perspectives, seize our attention, energize our progress, make our democracies real, and give hope and courage to oppressed people...” He cited Galileo, Darwin, Nelson Mandela, and Rosa Parks as among the ranks of those who disagreed.
But Stephens says we are failing at disagreement, expressing discord in ways that are increasingly virulent, violent, and embittering. He says our disagreements are non-productive when they are based on misunderstandings. Productive disagreements, on the other hand, “arise from perfect comprehension...”
What makes our disagreements so toxic is that “we refuse to make eye contact with our opponents, or try to see things as they might, or find some middle ground.” His remedy: “Shut up; listen up; pause and reconsider; and only then speak.”
When is the last time you actively chose to spend time with people you disagree with and discuss your differences? (Tweet it!) Did you learn anything, about them or yourself? To join the conversation, click "comments" above.
If you would like to read more about creating a habit around communication mastery, check out our book: Be Quiet, Be Heard: The Paradox of Persuasion.
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