An article by Adam Grant in The Washington Post beautifully articulates the argument that learning the art of effectively communicating disagreement and discussing difficult topics civilly is so desperately needed - not just for our children, but for everyone. This reinforces the blog I recently wrote about Bret Stevens’ lecture, “The Dying Art of Disagreement”.
The biggest barrier to having critical discussions and debate is how emotional intelligence is perceived and taught. For example, EI training has been a big part of the $500 billion spent on leadership training. Understandably most view emotional intelligence as a soft skill because most of what’s out there is a bunch of fluff encouraging people to be “nice”.
In an interview in the Washington Post by Jena McGregor, on October 4, 2017, with the former Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, whom I met at a Mental Health America conference when he was the Surgeon General, summarizes the current challenge when he explains, “I was at a well known university about nine months ago when I was in office and I asked an audience of 400 faculty and students the following question: ‘How many of you look at emotions as a source of weakness versus a source of power?’ And nearly every hand went up. This is the paradigm we have to flip in this country.”
Our challenge is to change this perception as Dr. Murthy suggests. Yes, we obviously want people to be nice to each other. But it is more important to be kind, as I discuss in my column in Money, Inc. ‘K is for Kindness’. To be kind, one must in many instances relay messages, take actions and make decisions, which not everyone agrees with. Avoiding these discussions, because they are not nice to have, is actually being unkind. Not having this discourse usually denies others of what they need to hear and prevents them from offering a counter perspective.
Photo Credit: Mountain Home Air Force Base