Last week’s invitation to disagree served many purposes. You immediately realized that you are safe here and do not have to agree with the owner. That reassurance lets you value the knowledge you bring. Your sense of value stimulates your growth toward your own goal, and you benefit.
There is another dimension to the story: your effect on me. When you know something I do not know, it is my turn to learn from you. There is an adage that the teacher learns more than the pupil. Usually this refers to the research required to have something to teach. I have an even greater growth opportunity: if you are not identical to me, I can learn something directly from you. As you participate, you are teaching me! We are teaching each other as we expand our thinking together.
Being contrary only breaks down the system, but handling difference with civility is very productive. It is important to share different approaches. Last week’s article and school supplement break down the issue into many identifiable components. The only harmful one is high-energy opposition, that is, mean-spirited contrary will.
Spoken in the right tone, “That is a bad idea” is not an attack. It is an evaluation that opens investigation. It is an offer of a better alternative. To be respected, I must respect you.
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