How can we disagree and still get along?

In May, I had a great time working with New York City public schools. We did a Connected Leadership Program, which incorporated a lot of the concepts from my Collaborative Communications Program. This is probably one of my favorite things to teach. We learn about ourselves and how to interpret the actions and behaviors of others. This allows our assumptions, misconceptions, and natural friction to be minimized, and our potential collaboration and relationship maximized. What could be better!

 

When Newsweek asked me to comment on how to encourage respectful debate in the workplace, my mind went immediately to that program. It is not just to encourage it; it’s to require it. If we want to make better decisions, if we want to have more innovative solutions, we need to ensure that different voices are heard, and different perspectives are considered. That means pushing and stretching our thinking. Then, we’re appreciating the differences between those in the room and how they think. Another critical benefit…it reduces the likelihood of group thinking where people just agree to get along. It also ensures the loudest voices aren’t just bulldozing over everyone to get their way.

 

The action step here is not just to encourage but to actually let people know that you expect them to step up. Make it their responsibility, while also inviting them into the conversation. If you are leading a critical conversation with a decision or solution on the table, and you don’t hear from every voice in that room, ask. It doesn’t mean we’re trying to get to consensus, it just means we’re trying to be more expansive and inclusive in our thinking and the conversation. It will drive better outcomes and engagement and accountability around the ultimate solution.

 

What do you do to encourage healthy debate? Check out what other experts had to say on the topic in this Newsweek article.

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