I'm not really a fan of conflict. I have strong opinions about certain things, but I'm the kind of "live and let live" person who doesn't really like to toss my opinions in other people's faces, let alone force other people to change their opinions to match my own.
Yet, with the political climate such that it is, I've found it difficult to maintain this attitude, particularly online where social media sites like Facebook and Twitter create a space for sharing — or oversharing — that often fosters disagreement.
My response to date has been to steer clear of conflict by avoiding these sites or hiding the friends that seemed bound and determined to pick a fight. But after seeing this TED Talk by Margaret Heffernan, I find myself more inclined to listen to opposing points of view.
Heffernan, the former CEO of five businesses, notes that good disagreement is central to progress. She illustrates (sometimes counterintuitively) how the best partners aren’t echo chambers, and how great research teams, relationships and businesses allow people to deeply disagree.
If we really want to make changes in this country, politically or otherwise, wouldn't it be great if we could debate key issues while still respecting each other people's opinions? Even ones that differ from our own? As Heffernan notes, "Because you simply won't commit that kind of energy and time if you don't really care. And it also means that we have to be prepared to change our minds."
It's advice we could all use as election time draws closer.