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Master the Art of Constructive Disagreement

The Ethical Lexicon #4: Practice the discipline that promotes clear thinking, fresh insights, and informed consensus.

A Yiddish proverb says that no one ever died from a question.

But don’t tell that to Socrates.

Of course, Socrates wasn’t killed by a question. He was sentenced to death for asking questions designed to make others confront the inconsistencies of their own beliefs and opinions.

And that is still a dangerous undertaking. Because in our society, emotions trump logic every time.

But where is that getting us?

Hyper-partisanship, polarization, ideology, groupthink, political gridlock, tribalization.

Is that really what we want?

Isn’t it better to reason our way toward the truth than hide from the truth so we don’t have to face it?

The brick wall coming at you when you’re driving 60 mph doesn’t care whether you believe it’s there or not.

Neither do the business decisions that everyone signs off on because they’re telling the boss what they think the boss wants to hear.

I often think of the CEO who says to his assistant:

“I hate yes-men. Don’t you agree, Perkins?”

You can feel confident as you go over the cliff, or you can rely on trusted advisors to point out that you’re headed in the wrong direction.

Please click for the full column on Fast Company.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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