Productive disagreement is a crucial skill. A high-performing team has a lot of task-conflicts and very little relationship conflicts. They are tense but secure. They can disagree without having to hate each other. That begs another question. Do you have productive disagreement in your head or do you think you should hate yourself for changing your mind? Would you feel ashamed? Defeated? Lost? Is there a benefit to you for being wrong for longer? Would it make sense to increase intensity instead of hostility? It costs the same amount of energy, but the outcome and your experience would be vastly different.
That is why hanging out with people who are similar to us inside is so much easier. That is what the science calls homophilic diversity. The name itself sounds horrible, however it is normal. It feels right, it feels comfortable, it helps us feel more confident so we identify ourselves with that group or label. There is another side to that coin as we are often even more defined by who we are definitely not. Our self-esteem is often based on being proud of the traits of our tribe and prosecuting the vices of our rivals.
It is hard to understand how our actions affect others until we experience the same. This is where coaching is vital and a technique called counter-factual thinking. The pandemic is raging as much as the Asian-hate in the USA. Afterall, it must be their fault as even the former US-president called it “China flu” amongst other equally racist names. That is good enough for his followers to accept it as fact and that justifies their actions. They do what they consider right, based on what they consider true to get the best outcome they think they can.
I had a podcast last year where this issue came up and I asked the American interviewer a question instead of answering while he suggested China should pay every country some heavy compensation for all the losses:
“100 years ago, the Spanish flu was originated from the USA according to several researches, they just called it Spanish as it did the most damage in Spain. Should the USA be responsible for compensation as it killed at least 50 times more people? Would it be fair if somebody walked up to you and punched you in the face because of that? Or your kids or parents who are even more vulnerable?”
As you can imagine the silence was followed by a less intellectual come back, however, I am quite certain that the conversation hit him hard. The podcast was published without that part which was not my decision.
If you present information without permission, it is unlikely that anyone will listen to you.
Being open-minded means that we are able to respond to confusion with curiosity instead of frustration. It is much easier if we define our identity in terms of values, not opinions. If we learn to question somebody’s HOW instead of their WHY, they become less defensive and there is more chance that we can have a productive task-conflict without escalating it to a nasty relationship one.