How to cultivate dissent in your organization

Better decisions, avoiding blind spots, stimulating new thinking, and strengthening personal commitment are just a few of the benefits of cultivating dissent in your conversations. But it isnโ€™t always easy to do. Here are three things that can help:

๐Ÿ. ๐ƒ๐จ ๐ซ๐ž๐ ๐ฎ๐ฅ๐š๐ซ โ€œ๐œ๐ก๐ž๐œ๐ค-๐ข๐ง๐ฌ.โ€
When discussing important issues, go around the room or video screen to check in with each person. You might preface the check-in with questions like these:

โ€ข ๐‘Šโ„Ž๐‘Ž๐‘ก ๐‘Ž๐‘Ÿ๐‘’ ๐‘ค๐‘’ ๐‘š๐‘–๐‘ ๐‘ ๐‘–๐‘›๐‘” โ„Ž๐‘’๐‘Ÿ๐‘’?

โ€ข ๐‘Šโ„Ž๐‘Ž๐‘ก ๐‘Ÿ๐‘’๐‘ ๐‘’๐‘Ÿ๐‘ฃ๐‘Ž๐‘ก๐‘–๐‘œ๐‘›๐‘  ๐‘‘๐‘œ ๐‘ฆ๐‘œ๐‘ข โ„Ž๐‘Ž๐‘ฃ๐‘’ ๐‘Ž๐‘๐‘œ๐‘ข๐‘ก ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘‘๐‘–๐‘Ÿ๐‘’๐‘๐‘ก๐‘–๐‘œ๐‘› ๐‘œ๐‘Ÿ ๐‘‘๐‘’๐‘๐‘–๐‘ ๐‘–๐‘œ๐‘› ๐‘ค๐‘’โ€™๐‘Ÿ๐‘’ ๐‘‘๐‘–๐‘ ๐‘๐‘ข๐‘ ๐‘ ๐‘–๐‘›๐‘”?

โ€ข ๐‘Šโ„Ž๐‘Ž๐‘ก ๐‘ค๐‘œ๐‘ข๐‘™๐‘‘ ๐‘๐‘’ ๐‘–๐‘› ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘ค๐‘Ž๐‘ฆ ๐‘œ๐‘“ ๐‘ฆ๐‘œ๐‘ข ๐‘“๐‘ข๐‘™๐‘™๐‘ฆ ๐‘๐‘œ๐‘š๐‘š๐‘–๐‘ก๐‘ก๐‘–๐‘›๐‘” ๐‘ฆ๐‘œ๐‘ข๐‘Ÿ๐‘ ๐‘’๐‘™๐‘“ ๐‘ก๐‘œ [๐‘คโ„Ž๐‘Ž๐‘ก ๐‘ค๐‘’โ€™๐‘Ÿ๐‘’ ๐‘ก๐‘Ž๐‘™๐‘˜๐‘–๐‘›๐‘” ๐‘Ž๐‘๐‘œ๐‘ข๐‘ก]?

Keep in mind that these questions are meaningless if you arenโ€™t genuinely interested in folksโ€™ responses, no matter how different they may be from what you expect or want to hear. When dissenting views ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ expressed, instead of defending your views or arguing with theirs, try shifting into inquiry and getting curious. Mine the differences like gold.

๐Ÿ. ๐๐ฎ๐ญ ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ๐ฌ๐ž๐ฅ๐Ÿ ๐จ๐ง ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ฅ๐ข๐ง๐ž ๐Ÿ๐ข๐ซ๐ฌ๐ญ, ๐›๐ž๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซ๐ž ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ ๐ž๐ฑ๐ฉ๐ž๐œ๐ญ ๐š๐ง๐ฒ๐จ๐ง๐ž ๐ž๐ฅ๐ฌ๐ž ๐ญ๐จ ๐๐จ ๐ข๐ญ.
Deliberately ask folks to poke holes in your own assumptions or thinking. And then listen attentively to really understand what theyโ€™re saying. Assume they see things youโ€™re blind to.

๐Ÿ‘. ๐…๐ข๐ง๐š๐ฅ๐ฅ๐ฒ, ๐›๐ฎ๐ญ ๐ฆ๐จ๐ฌ๐ญ ๐ข๐ฆ๐ฉ๐จ๐ซ๐ญ๐š๐ง๐ญ๐ฅ๐ฒ, ๐ ๐ž๐ญ ๐œ๐ฅ๐ž๐š๐ซ ๐š๐›๐จ๐ฎ๐ญ ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ ๐ข๐ง๐ญ๐ž๐ง๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง.
Is your desire to encourage dissenting views stronger than your discomfort at having your own views challenged? Dissenting perspectives may seem to threaten your objectives or your public identity, or both. Sincerely inviting dissenting views requires humility, courage and patience (it can take longer to hear and explore each personโ€™s views). Itโ€™s hard to do unless youโ€™re absolutely clear that its benefits outweigh the discomfort.

Recognize that when people express dissenting views, they usually do so because they want to contribute, not out of apathy or spite. Dissenting views are often much more valuable than unexamined agreement or presumed consent.

Even if itโ€™s coming from a disgruntled place or not expressed perfectly, dissent can transform our thinking and performance if we treat it with respect.

May 23, 2023 by Grayson James


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