Target Agreement in Disagreeable Settings

eweber   September 21, 2008   46 Comments

While some leaders literally wire their brains for gridlock and compromise that can poison communications, it’s also true that disagreements can  blast open  doors to life-changing ethical insights.  When people differ with the brain in mind, they build goodwill among those who differ. How so?

If you’ve ever benefited from unique insights, you’ve likely also seen opposing viewpoints from high-performance minds,  that beg to differ. So why then, do disagreements also break up relations, terminate projects, shut down brilliant people, promote racism, and even ignite wars?

To  disagree well, is also  to lead well, and they both have more to do with how human brains prosper,  than you may realize.  In brain based settings, disagreement avoids clashes on the one hand, and offers amazing new zest for genius, on the other. How so?

Rather than take potshots at people, consider disagreements as tools to build goodwill across differences:

1. Learn from facts in the opposite viewpoint: Look for and engage people on opposite sides of controversial issues, and watch facts fly from new angles to extend winning results. The other side of war is peace, for instance, and its tactics are taught by brilliant minds sometimes silenced, for a one-side-only approach to conflict.

2. Solve complex problems with diverse thinkers. You’ll be surprised how many hidden and unused parts of the brain spring alive, when people dig for solutions across genders, cultures, beliefs and background experiences.

3. Draw on multiple intelligences for fresh ideas. Each human brain comes equipped with at least 8 intelligences, that offer innate tools for drawing solutions from alternative pools. Disagreements can kick-start progressive pathways past ruts or routines, that otherwise barricade progress. Have you seen it happen?

4. Surprise others by improving your own approaches. Serotonin chemicals for goodwill literally spread to energize others’ minds, whenever you create changes that genuinely improve their situation.  Change, grow, improve some area of your own work, and watch others progress in response. Let others know what they taught you along the way to keep serotonin growth alive though.

5. Anticipate angry responses that differences often bring. For many people who operate in one-way-only-steps, their brains’ chemical and electrical activity turn toxic when confronted with serious differences. Add to this the related cortisol rush confrontations surge to the brain, and you heat tempers and sharpen barbs in a heartbeat. Those who prepare ahead, tend to come with strategies that engage people meaningfully, before face offs from different views hit the fans.

6. Affirm each person’s genuine contributions. You increase lively mental tone, and open spigots to creativity for far more innovative possibilities,  when you welcome common ground at first.  Praise what already works well, before you hammer out the differences, and watch solutions fly.

7. Risk the ambiguity that favors unity over uniformity. Uniformity with its rigid one-size-fits-all approach differs from unity, which mixes in differences to create a new soup altogether. Unity flavors differences with spices people create and celebrate together. It takes ongoing risk to polish innovative products that stem from differences.  Continually test results,   risk constant tweaking, and watch differences increase wealth and build caring communities.

8. Toss in good tone and teach less experienced leaders. Tone’s a skill that all can learn, yet at times it’s practiced only by few. It’s found in genuine questions that shatter silences that hold back healthy merges. The opposite of anger’s shut downs, good tone opens mental acumen through apologies whenever darts are fired, and laughter to shake off personal offenses. It promotes success through the strengths found in differences at work.

9. Leverage curiosity and expect brilliance from mistakes reworked. Watch any genius  work and you’ll also see hope and courage that fired Emerson to say: In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts. Mistake bring differences together for another go at transformed minds. Choose to be curious and the very act rewires your brain for collaborative works of genius. Has it happened in your circles?

10. Stick a neuron in your head and laugh. Find humor in yourself, your quirks, your previous biases, your false starts – and watch new neuron pathways form across differences. Paths toward complex projects, suddenly emerge from refreshing insights and a growing need for alternative perspectives. Do new neuron pathways enrich your journey with those who look, think, and act differently from you?

Each of the brain based tools here capitalize on differences, and depend on disagreements, to release new  brainpower. Similarly, each one can open spaces to expand ideas, gravitate to brighter futures, and unify people who build wealth from including differences, and benefiting from disagreements.

How many top disagreement tools do you use at the peaks? One? Ten? Could differences, expressed in well articulated disagreements – rewire your brain and reboot your circles in the coming week?

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46 thoughts on “Target Agreement in Disagreeable Settings

  1. Jeanne Dininni

    Wonderful advice, Ellen!

    Turning our disagreements into opportunities for learning and growth (in all the ways you’ve mentioned above) can make such a positive difference in our lives! While it can indeed be tough to consistently put these principles into practice, it definitely yields wonderful rewards–which is one reason I’m trying to become better at it!

    Thanks for sharing these insights!

  2. eweber Post author

    Thanks for stopping by Jeanne! You build a great case for looking at how the brain cooks up improved practice from cutting edge research here also. It’s so true that it’s tough to be consistent – I too have sure found that to be so.

    Yet- one cool fact about the brain is on our side:-) Whenever you act on these or other research insights, the human brain rewires its resilient plasticity for more of the same:-)

    Sounds like a fair deal and a motivator to me:-) You?

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  4. Jeanne Dininni

    Yes indeed! After all, the only thing we have to do to develop a habit is repeat the same action a sufficient number of times — which I assume has something to do with the brain’s gradually increasing plasticity as we consistently alter our old behavioral patterns.

  5. eweber Post author

    It is just that way, Jeanne, but it’s kind of cool how it impacts the physical as much as we are learning it does.

    The repeat part is a bit scary in that it can rather easily nudge us into ruts — which makes a bit of a vicious cycle. It’s kind of fun to have an awareness of it all though — and it makes a difference to how we move forward:-)

  6. Jeanne Dininni

    It’s certainly true that there are good and bad habits–and in that sense, it is kind of scary, since it’s so easy to fall into the bad ones. But, isn’t it wonderful to know that it’s every bit as possible to develop good habits as bad ones when we make the choice to do it and put in the required effort? I tend to think of a negative habit as a rut but a good, positive, healthy habit as a catalyst for new and better things.

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  21. eweber Post author

    Thanks for stopping by Kathie. It’s fun to find such cool leaders out there who are tackling similar topics in different ways! Yes! My MITA model engages MI but gets measurable motivation and achievement through brain based approaches:-)

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  37. linda jackson

    when you have disagreeable setting, it opens up new doors for thinking, as far as it being spontanious and new to the brain in that moment, it can help you to think quicker. it also will give new insight to others thoughts, and you may learn something wheather you agreee or not.

  38. linda jackson

    everybody has a right to there own opinons of course, but not all people feel that others opinions are right, just theirs. in order to keep the peace with a person like this i believe you have to build a relationship with this person, it does not have to be personel, just an understanding of their personality, and making exceptions and maybe sacrifice, not big ones, just being honest not hostle may workl.

  39. linda jackson

    when engaging in a hot conversation, people will always have different opinions. in order to build goodwill in the conversation everyone should think of how they would feel if someone disagrees with them and accept their opinion or idea.

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  41. Iyabo Asani, The Entrepreneur Success Coach

    This is the reason that successful projects require diversity of thought, race, gender and culture.

    I come from a multicultural and multicultural background. I find that our very definition of diversity is changing. As the workforce is becoming more global with ease of immigration, this adds a different layer of diversity to help create even better ideas.



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