Don’t Avoid Those Who Disagree With You
May 15, 2021
A few days back, I got into a debate with my younger son regarding an Economics Assessment paper he was working on. In this assessment, my son had to research a particular topic and provide his perspective based on the Economics concepts he had learned. My son wanted me to review what he felt was an almost finished document and give some inputs.
I went through the essay he had written and gave him some clear feedback in a few areas. Unfortunately, my feedback fundamentally challenged a few aspects of what he had written. And, as soon as I gave my feedback, I could sense that he was very uncomfortable and upset, mainly since the input was coming just a day before he was due to submit his assignment. He did not want to go through the ordeal of having to rewrite large portions of his paper.
So, instead of acknowledging and accepting my feedback in good faith, my son started debating why my feedback was incorrect and why what he had written was ok. After a few minutes of back and forth argument, I found myself losing patience. I told my son that “I have given you my feedback because you asked for it. If you don’t like what I have said, feel free to ignore it and go with what you have written.” My comment irritated him further because he was not ready to ignore my feedback. What if what I told him was valid?
The next day my son shared with me a revised draft with my inputs incorporated.
Pay Attention To Those Who Disagree With You
We all like it when people around us agree with what we say and do. We seek validation and endorsement. But if someone disagrees with our viewpoint and gives us feedback, we become defensive. We try and avoid such people because we feel they spoil our mood.
Here is a simple life lesson. You will never learn anything from someone who agrees with you.
You learn the most only from those who disagree with you and challenge you with a different perspective. If you take a moment to reflect on those times in your professional career where you evolved the most, it would most certainly involve people who pushed you, challenged you beyond the comfort of your normal thinking.
Don’t resist interacting with people who disagree with you just because they make you uncomfortable. The discomfort is often the play of your ego. If you set aside your ego and pay attention to the feedback, it will always be to your benefit. Whether you choose to accept or not accept what the other person is saying- it doesn’t matter. Just don’t shy away from people who challenge you.
Take this to be a mental model. You learn more from people who disagree with you. If you internalize this mental model, you will find it easier to deal with people who are not on the same page with you. Because your ego also knows that you will benefit from paying attention to disagreement.