Target Lessons from Opposing Views

eweber   October 9, 2008   19 Comments

Pause for a moment and listen to opinionated or narrow-minded people you know. Listen to them tell others why they are far more qualified to give one-sided versions of a  topic than other people hold. Notice the put downs and attacks that fall like pellets in a hail storm?

You’ll likely hear choice words such as bogus or ridiculous to describe any differing view. Not surprisingly,  opinionated people who comment online,  rarely leave names or other ID beside their terrible tone tactics. Hmmm.

While it’s true that opinionated people can also be highly specialized in their fields, it’s also true that they have few skills to engage other people’s views in order to learn from the other side. My own love for research leaves me understanding a thing more clearly when I look at it’s opposite hues and shapes through other people’s eyes. Have you noticed that too?

People who diminish opposing views also tend to cause flame wars. They tend to truncate discussions that could lead to amazing understanding from deeper and wider angles across different minds.

Research helps us to discover and support with specific examples… rather than defend our views and attack others. Great team players tend to avoid polemics in favor of reflecting on interesting opposites, in ways that generate a new whole with facts from both sides.

Here are topics with interesting, supportable opposing viewpoints


One view

Opposing view

1. Education

Back to basics

Brain based

2. Sports

Paid fairly

Paid unfairly

3. Politics

Builds community

Erodes groups

4. Media

Represents most

Represents few

5. Depression

Treat with drugs

Without drugs

6. Immigrants

Great asset

Not an asset

7. College



8. Salaries

Fair for most

Unfair for most

9. Family

Helps most kids

Hinders many

10. Healthcare

Fair to most

Unfair to most

11. Weightloss

More diets

Less diets

12. Nature



13. Animals


Don’t spay

14. Equity

Growing in US

Shrunk in US

15. Outsource

Good idea

Bad idea

16. Arts

More emphasis

Less emphasis

17. Creativity

Can teach

Cannot  teach

18. Tone

Can help all

Cannot help all

19. Birthrates

Too high

Too low

20. Intelligence

IQ is fixed

IQ is not fixed

21. Friendships

Easy to keep

Hard to keep

22. Divorce

Is a good idea

Not a good idea

23. Stress

Good at  times

Always harmful

24. Music

Should copy free

No free copies

25. Gender

Fair treatment


26. Age

Young preferred

Aged preferred

27. Power

From hard work

From privilege

In order to extend insights, from ideas you and others put forward, why not start with a question to hear more of what they understand about their view? Or affirm something you seem to share in common. Suggest another angle that person might appreciate. Or better still, why not suggest a project together – that would build from ideas on opposite sides of the issue. Take the tone survey to see how you do with this intrapersonal intelligence.

Any of these suggestions would free people to add their names beside their ideas in online discussion boards. They’d likely also leave you learning from unexpected melodies that tend to come from opposing views of interesting topics. Worth another look at  tone tactics that replace flame wars with peace plans to move genius ideas forward together?

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19 thoughts on “Target Lessons from Opposing Views

  1. Terry Whiteside

    Hi Ellen,
    We launched a debate website ( on July 24, 2008 and use some of the skill sets you describe to bring intelligent discussion online.

    For example, we always post the debate as a question, such as “Are vegetarians healthier?” Or for our Presidential candidates “Who has the better economic plan?” You might be interested in seeing the results.

    Terry Whitesides last blog post..Should Religious Symbols be Displayed on Public Property?

  2. eweber Post author

    Thanks Terry for such a wonderful confirmation that the skills of supporting opposing views work in any civil arena. Great site and congrats on the way you expand the views so far wider than typically seen:-). How refreshing!

    More sites like yours would give people a place to see and develop the skills that supports views without attacking people or diminishing insights from the other side.

    How do you inspire civility and thoughtful reflections from those who lack tone skills, or are more used to attacking others as a way to emphasize their own ideas?

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