3 Steps to More Civil Disagreement

In these contentious times it’s important to remember that disagreements and differences of opinion aren’t zero sum games, battles to be won at all costs.

“Disagreement stems from differing points of view that may be anchored in deep-seated beliefs that each hold dear,” writes John Baldoni, internationally recognized leadership educator and author of 14 books. “The challenge is to put aside the animus and respect one another as sentient and capable. We can feel, and we can decide.”

Erisology, a term that first made its appearance in The Atlantic last year, is the study of destructive arguments, or, as the term’s creator John Nerst described it, “unsuccessful disagreement”. An unsuccessful disagreement is an exchange where people are no closer in understanding at the end than they were at the beginning, meaning the exchange has been mostly about talking past each other and/or hurling insults.”

These types of unsuccessful disagreements have always existed. In centuries past, they were constrained by the educated classes who were trained in the art of rhetoric and debate. The internet and the anonymity it offers loosened the rules and broadened the reach of zealots. As discussions grew more strident, they also often became more personal and adversarial.

Says Baldoni, “The reasons [for the stridency] are speculative — social media and the abnegation of fact — but the results are people believe what they want to believe and, in doing so, end up in separate camps. Such distancing is not healthy for our culture.”

What’s to be done? Baldoni’s prescription is personal:

  1. Do not pre-judge. See the person as an individual who has a point of view and not as a combatant.
  2. Listen carefully. “Invite the other to speak first. Stay calm, breath regularly and relax your facial muscles. Take a point the other has said and use it as an opening for a new line of discussion.”
  3. Argue dispassionately. Look for common ground. There is almost always something on which the two of you can agree. Then “use that commonality as a bridge to finding understanding.”

Following his advice isn’t easy, he admits, “These three steps, while easy to state, can be difficult to implement when tempers flare and more difficult still when people feel their values are under siege.” But as he says, these are tools that can be used to return civility to our disagreements.

“Our challenge is to put them to good use.”

Photo by Mad Fish Digital on Unsplash

Marketing Strategies: 2024 Trends and Strategies for Success
General Interest

Marketing Strategies: 2024 Trends and Strategies for Success

The Essence of Marketing Strategy: Driving Business Success (Part II)
General Interest

The Essence of Marketing Strategy: Driving Business Success (Part II)

The Essence of Marketing Strategy: Driving Business Success
General Interest

The Essence of Marketing Strategy: Driving Business Success

Mastering Task Prioritization for Stress Reduction
General Interest

Mastering Task Prioritization for Stress Reduction

Crafting the Future: Delving into AI as a College Major
General Interest Information Technology

Crafting the Future: Delving into AI as a College Major

Mary-Kate Bula Selected as Assistant Coach of the USA Women’s Flag Football National Team
General Interest Pharma

Mary-Kate Bula Selected as Assistant Coach of the USA Women’s Flag Football National Team

Leveraging LinkedIn Polls: A Strategic Tool for Business Insights
General Interest

Leveraging LinkedIn Polls: A Strategic Tool for Business Insights

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Kyle Gierke
General Interest Healthcare

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Kyle Gierke

Essential Strategies for 2024: Remote Training
General Interest

Essential Strategies for 2024: Remote Training

Steps to Nurture a Multigenerational Workforce
General Interest

Steps to Nurture a Multigenerational Workforce

Tips to Cultivate a Compelling Employer Brand
General Interest

Tips to Cultivate a Compelling Employer Brand

Green Key Names 3 New Partners in 2024
General Interest

Green Key Names 3 New Partners in 2024

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Samantha Desena 
Accounting + Finance General Interest

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Samantha Desena 

Why Companies are Already Recruiting Interns for 2025
General Interest

Why Companies are Already Recruiting Interns for 2025

Todd Gabianelli Selected as an Old Master at Purdue University 
Pharma

Todd Gabianelli Selected as an Old Master at Purdue University 

Navigating the Surge of Respiratory Illnesses Across the U.S.
General Interest

Navigating the Surge of Respiratory Illnesses Across the U.S.

Gen Z: Catalysts for Workplace Evolution in 2024
General Interest

Gen Z: Catalysts for Workplace Evolution in 2024

The Office Real Estate Dilemma
General Interest

The Office Real Estate Dilemma

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Rich Egloff
Architecture + Engineering Leadership + Management

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Rich Egloff

From the Big Quit to the Big Stay
General Interest

From the Big Quit to the Big Stay

Latest Blog Posts
View All Posts
Marketing Strategies: 2024 Trends and Strategies for Success

Marketing Strategies: 2024 Trends and Strategies for Success

In our last two articles, we delved into marketing strategies, uncovering what they are, the multiple types, how they work,...
Read More
The Essence of Marketing Strategy: Driving Business Success (Part II)

The Essence of Marketing Strategy: Driving Business Success (Part II)

With a grasp of the fundamental concept of Marketing Strategy, let’s explore its advantages in more detail and uncover the...
Read More
The Essence of Marketing Strategy: Driving Business Success

The Essence of Marketing Strategy: Driving Business Success

In the intricate world of business, a marketing strategy serves as the cornerstone upon which companies build their path to...
Read More