In my last newsletter, I focused on the idea of creating a culture of open communication to foster a team that’s antifragile. This week I’d like to build on that and give you another tool to use to improve communication in your organization/team/family/etc. (If you’re asking yourself what the heck “antifragile” means, you can find the post here).
We all have different communication styles, and I’m a person who, most of the time, naturally does not particularly enjoy disagreements or arguments. Yet as a graphic facilitator, I often intentionally develop processes for my clients that make space for ideas to clash.
No, I don’t just get all the right people in the room, then open with some inflammatory question that sets everyone on edge and then let the group have at it. Recipe for disaster.
Instead, I frame disagreement as a way to avoid a pitfall that organizations across sectors find themselves in: If nobody is disagreeing, we all must be on the same page, right?
Okay, maybe you’ve done heaps of work, you actually ARE all agreeing on the same level, and you’re ready to crush it. But many times leaders find themselves with team members who are frustrated because they feel like they can’t safely share ideas that are different or at odds with others.
One way to start helping folks feel better about disagreeing is to start with one of my favorite ground rules from the Center for Public Deliberation at Colorado State University:
It’s okay to disagree, but do so with curiosity, not hostility.
Asking people to be curious when they’re disagreeing can be a powerful mental shift because it allows them to question in a constructive way, and also to accept different perspectives without getting defensive. Because we all know that no matter how carefully we plan, how great an idea might be in the meeting room, something unexpected will happen.
We also know that it takes courage to let yourself be vulnerable by suggesting half-formed ideas that you think could spark something great from your team. Allowing and encouraging your peeps to look beyond the obvious solutions by disagreeing curiously can help you avoid costly mistakes up front and build better concepts in the long run.
If a meeting, event, or the culture you nurture in your team is built on the idea that it’s good to disagree curiously, that allows people the space and encouragement to question, share, scrap & start over. It builds open, respectful communication, which builds trust. Which leads to great teams doing amazing things together. Boom.
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Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.
Need someone to create a space for curious disagreement for your next event? Click to get in touch about your next meeting or event that could use a touch of graphic facilitation magic.