I happened to see this article, What Happens in the Brain When We Disagree, a few minutes after coaching a client on an important negotiation. The essence of what these scientists discovered by watching brain activity during a hypothetical real estate negotiation is, when people disagreed, their brains became less sensitive to the strength of others’ opinions.
(1) If we sense that the counterparty essentially agrees with our fundamental position we are able to logically consider their evidence, even if it contradicts our position.
(2) If we sense they disagree, our response is dominated by the fear-generating parts of the brain and we dig into a defensive, less logical posture.
This confirms the old adage, Start by establishing common ground, e.g., Philosopher Daniel Dennett on How to Argue.
How to compose a successful critical commentary:
You should attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.
You should list any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).
You should mention anything you have learned from your target.
Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.
Is there anything about human relations that has not been written thousands of years ago?
He that answereth a matter before he heareth it,
it is folly and shame unto him
We live in America, “the land of the free and the home of the brave,” yet we meekly surrender our freedom at work. I know, “We call it ‘work’ because ‘play’ means something else.” But we give up so much so easily! Employers dictate whether we wear our hair: long or short, covered or uncovered, coifed, clipped, combed, or corn-rowed. Whether we are allowed to wind down after work with alcohol, nicotine, or cannabis. Or, whether we wind down at all, with texts, emails, and travel at all hours of any day. We let them record our phone calls, read our emails, count our keystrokes, search our pockets, and time our bathroom breaks. We must not discuss our pay or take a job less than …_X_ miles away, then get fired anyway over a Tweet or a bumper sticker. There are even worse examples, but…
You don’t need more evidence that too many jobs are intrusive and demeaning. You know … You know it! I can tell. You may even know that inventing and enforcing these rules wastes money and reduces profits. I’m not here to prove that this is a problem. I’m here with the solution. I have the answer! … The answer… is, “No.”… “Just …say, …’No!'”
My friend took a job on the Hubble Space Telescope, where programmers had not delivered a single finished program in three years. When he heard his first deadline, he said, “No! I need more time.” His boss shrugged. My friend delivered working code “late” -but on the exact date he promised.
He got another assignment with another impossible due date. Again, …he delivered on the date he promised. He didn’t get a third program to code. He got three programmers to manage. His team delivered quality code on the dates they promised. So, they put him in charge of all the programmers. Not because he was a coding savant. Not because he was a charismatic leader. No, just because he had demonstrated the awesome power of, “No.”
Our reluctance to say, “No,” comes from fear. Fear that you are your job. Fear that your income is your value. That is not who you are. You get to say who you are.
You get to say, “No,” anytime, anywhere, to anyone. Because we live in America, “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”