The Importance of Learning to Civilly and Effectively Communicate Disagreement

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With all of the noise about the National Football League, the message in Bret Stevens lecture published in the New York Times is that the most effective way to resist, protect and defend democracy and a civilized society is to effectively communicate disagreement. Today, most of what we are hearing is the ranting of polarized positions.

Whenever I engage in a debate I ask myself if there is a one percent possibility that my position is wrong. If the answer to this is yes, then I owe it to myself and to the people implicated by the debate to consider the opposing view. What is required here is the ability of people to have critical discussions when they disagree, as discussed in N. Gregory Mankiw’s article in the Times. Unfortunately, this is outside of most people's comfort zones. I believe that if more of us used the power of Emotional Intelligence, coupled with the Golden Rule, they can revive the art of disagreement. Not having constructive debates puts at risk the voices of reason, and gives licence to the loudest belligerent voice in the room, which undermines the very essence of democracy.

In my book, From Bully to Bull’s-Eye: Move Your Organization Out of the Line of Fire, I explain how taking civil action is critical to changing a culture. The NFL exemplified this action as they knelt down during the playing of the National Anthem.

Photo credit: Aidan Jones