Take a peek at the picture above. What immediately comes to mind for you?
You might think, “aw, so cute.” Or with your nose itching, you might think, “Wow, look at those furry piles of allergy-ridden dander.”
Both of these thoughts are true, and so is every other thought or feeling you might have when you look at this photo.
Often we encounter issues, ideas, and problems for which there is no one right answer. Low-stakes questions like the dog vs. cat question can be fun in our everyday life, but as a part of a cohesive group rallied around a mission, profession, industry, field, or cause, this gray murky area can be tough for members. When members hear a strong contradictory point of view from their peers, they may start to wonder, “are these really my people?”
When you know one of these tough conversations is ahead for your members, chapter, or board, you can prepare. Here are a few tactics that can alleviate the stress of dissension.
- Share an example (like the one above) and explain how we all have a different lived experience and everyone’s experience is valid.
- Ask questions indirectly. For example, instead of asking, “what are all the reasons to put a heavy emphasis on virtual event delivery in the coming years?” ask instead, “what are all the reasons for our competition might want to put a heavy emphasis on virtual events in the coming years?”
- Lower the stakes by framing the work of the group as a brainstorm or a rough draft. During the brainstorm, there are no right or wrong answers, we are just generating a pile of thoughts. After a constructive brainstorm, perhaps the group moves into the “rough draft” stage. Again, during the rough draft, we are not committing to anything rather, we are trying ideas on for size.
- Raise up people willing to come forward with a risky new thought or the ideas they shared.
All sorts of opposing ideas can ultimately make for much better decision making, especially when we make not achieving consensus okay.
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