The Benefit Of Hearing From All Sides
I was listening to a podcast a few years ago in the car on my way to an onsite visit when I came across an interesting discussion about having and discussing differing opinions. The host and the guest were talking about how congenial disagreement is a great tool to be able to test different thoughts and opinions and can help firm up your argument.
You see, without cross-examination or an adversarial process, whatever we hear first probably would seem right to us. This is because the first thing we hear did take the speaker time to think through, and he has already persuaded himself of his case. But, just like the wise man of Proverbs says, this is only because we haven’t heard or had the chance to think of anything contrary.
The first to state his case seems rightProverbs 18:17
until another comes and cross-examines him.
When we hear opposing arguments, we get the opportunity to think through the first argument and recognize its weaknesses. Similarly, if we have opposing thoughts expressed in a meeting– without the adversarial part– we get the opportunity to consider multiple solutions to come up with the best solution.
Now… there are dangers here. Anyone who has issues with analysis paralysis may find themselves unable to come to a decision at all– too many choices. You also have the chance that people take this creative difference personally.
This is why, if you’re going to harness the power of creative differences, you’re going to have to have good ground rules or a good relationship, and an agreement on coming to an outcome and everyone going forward when you get there.
But you should harness this power, and look for people who can point out the issues with your plan (like I did a couple of paragraphs ago!) to help you come to the best solution. Take the wisdom of Solomon, and make sure that you hear all sides before making a decision, and you will truly be wise.