5 Ways to Find Vitality in Disagreement
Giving solutions, without exploring issues, lets people know you aren’t listening.
Solutions found in isolation are irritations to others.
3 ways to let others know you aren’t listening:
#1. Focus on positions. Defensive conversations are either/or exchanges with winners and losers.
Defensive leaders look to win arguments by convincing others they’re wrong.
#2. Don’t explore assumptions behind positions. Why bother exploring an issue when you’re right?
The burden of a closed mind is knowing what others should do before they know.
#3. Tell others what they think.
I hate when I let myself get dragged into adversarial conversations. I end up telling people what they think, rather than asking them what they’re trying to achieve.
Explore issues before sharing solutions, even when you have the answer.
5 ways to find vitality in disagreement:
#1. Build relations that thrive in disagreement. Have the best interests of others at heart.
Sometimes the real issue is the relationship.
#2. Affirm the value of disagreement.
Disaster awaits when we always agree with each other.
Vitality is born in healthy disagreement and constructive dissent.
Creative thinking begins with disagreement. Eric Hoffer said, “The beginning of thought is in disagreement – not only with others but also with ourselves.”
#3. Focus on mission – clarify goals. Arguments apart from clear goals are wildfires. What are we trying to achieve? What greater good is motivating us?
#4. Be proactive. Don’t wait for issues to come to you. Go to them. What’s not working for you?
Avoiding disagreements is more perilous than addressing them.
#5. Focus on behaviors.
Objectives are useless apart from actionable behaviors. How will you move forward?
- How do you think others should change?
- How might you need to change?
- What behaviors move us toward our objectives?
- What would it look like, if you saw what you wanted in action?
The sparks of disagreement – handled well – ignite vitality.
How might leaders maximize the value of disagreement?
Perfect timing. I just borrowed ‘Solutions found in isolation are irritations to others’ to explain why we need to work across organizations to solve a problem instead of doing it in siloes. Thanks!
Thanks Liz. Glad to be useful. I must confess that I’ve irritated lots of people with my solutions. 🙂
Same here. I did have a flash of self-awareness when I read that statement, and will hang on to that.
ABSOLUTELY! Nice overview. There is that old Samuel Goldwyn (MGM movie studio) quote, “When I want your opinion, I will give it to you.” It illustrates this well.
I always rely on the comments of the CEO of a client, in a retreat with ALL of his managers to discuss organizational improvement and involvement issues. John B.said, to the shock of everyone and clearly demonstrating he was not in alignment with our discussions about motivating people:
“That like asking the vegetables how to design a refrigerator.”
Let’s say that we basically ignored that “contribution” and continued to work around him to get things done, reduce turnover and improve customer service. He was new and not there long.
The Round Wheels are already in the wagon and they represent a wide variety of different ideas about what might be done differently, but the Square Wheels just keep rolling along like they always have, with everyone too busy to stop and discuss. Wagon Puller Leaders absolutely get isolated from the hands-on reality of pushing and when they close their mind to the ideas of others, they get what they deserve.
I’m a solutions guy, always looking for problems to solve. But I found out 35 years ago that when people refer to things as “Scott’s Idea,” the likelihood of them getting implemented with my direct attention is basically zero. Nobody ever washes a rental car, so having ownership involvement is a critical aspect of moving forward more better faster.
Have fun out there and thanks for the great post, Dan.
Thanks Dr. Scott. Great insights. “Scott’s idea” is brilliant for Scott. That’s why it’s necessary for people to come up with, take responsibility for, and implement their own ideas. (As much as possible.)
There idea is always better than your idea, even if it isn’t quite as good.
Timely and cogent for this outpost Dan, thanks!
“The burden of a closed mind..”…Owww, SNAP!
As with any change, even beginning to dialogue on alternative views, there is human core discomfort at creating and living in that type of dynamic tension even though it is probably one of the healthier things we need to do… often.
Seems like too, you are noting distinctions between managers, mentors, leaders and faux leaders. One of the keys, which sounds oxymoronic (is that a word?), is maintaining a flexible perspective. As you pointed out, shifting that perspective the greater good, not your own personal gain or short term ‘wins’ helps all move forward. I might add to both the ‘how should others change and how might you change to why and maybe put yourself first…How and why should you change?
Thanks for shifting paradigms all these years Dan!
Thanks Doc. It’s always good to see that you’ve stopped in. I appreciate the good word.
BTW…there is a reason why I understand a closed mind and it has more to do with me than others. 🙂
“Maintaining a flexible perspective.” How easily those words float around in my head. It’s the execution that seems elusive. I’m reminded of Bob Sutton’s suggestion that we might want to entertain the thought that we could be wrong. Now that’s a thought!
Dang Dan, and I thought that was a clear window I was looking through…now it turns out it was mirror….again!!
Trouble is, my window is one of those curved circus mirrors!
“Solutions found in isolation are irritations to others.”