Now more than ever before we are poised to misunderstand each others intent, meaning and perspectives. With the communication of ideas happening with greater frequency in places like twitter and facebook, it is easier now to assume someone is wrong, ill-informed or just a plane a-hole.
If you’ve followed any of the psychology or journalism focused on how we form and keep opinions over the last 50 years, than you know how unreasonable reasonable people can be! Even if you haven’t read anything of that nature, chances are you have experienced it first hand at a family event, with a co-worker or perhaps like me, on social media.
In 2017 this fantastic article in the New Yorker made the rounds on Facebook and LinkedIN. In it, writer Elizabeth Kolbert shared research and stories highlighting how simply presenting people with facts does not change their minds. Within days I had the oddly surreal experience of witnessing a debate on Facebook in which one person proudly announced “I don’t think it’s true. Facts absolutely do change minds,” and then dug their heels so deeply in to their perspective no matter how many people posted links to studies in psychology journals, articles, and more… that they were as solid and unswayable as a concrete footing.
The consequences for these back-and-forths that go nowhere are clear. Deeper polarization. We breed distrust with each other. We’re appalled that people we love, admire and respect would have the audacity to view the world through a different lens… A WRONG LENS.
And even knowing that this is true is no prevention! Because being right gives us a tiny hit of dopamine, we often put ourselves through hell trying to change someone’s mind even a little because when they say “hmm, that’s a good point” we get a little delicious taste of being right, and it’s the subconscious promise of reward that influences how we show up to disagreements.
Rather than continue engaging in a head banging against a wall competition, I suggest that we may all benefit from striving to have reasonable conversations with each other. I don’t want to mislead you… these types of conversations take mental and emotional energy until you become well-practiced at these skills. But in the end I am a firm believer that building trust far outweighs building walls in the long run.
Here is my not-so-simple, simple guide to having reasonable conversations with someone you disagree with
(this post can also be enjoyed at Medium.com)
I’m Aden Nepom
I’m a pragmatic and playful advisor on communication and change. I work with passionate leaders who want to positively impact their work, teams, and organizations.
I can help you develop powerful and flexible communication skills that build massive trust (and help you have more fun), while increasing your influence up, down and sideways.
If you’re feeling stuck in your workplace relationships or communication. I can help.