Dissent has a Significant Value

For the most part, we gravitate toward people who hold a lot of the same beliefs that we do. It’s human nature. Yet a vast body of research now points to the import of contemplating diverse, dissenting views. Not just in terms of making us more rounded individuals but in terms of making us smarter decision-makers.

Dissent, it turns out, has a significant value.

When group members are actively encouraged to openly express divergent opinions they not only share more information, they consider it more systematically and in a more balanced and less biased way. When people engage with those with different opinions and views from their own they become much more capable of properly interrogating critical assumptions and identifying creative alternatives.

Studies comparing the problem-solving abilities of groups in which dissenting views are voiced with groups in which they are not find that dissent tends to be a better precondition for reaching the right solution than consensus.

Every leader should take this advice to heart: never shy away from opposition; welcome it — better yet, encourage it, then encourage it some more.

Summing-up: We are drawn to thouse who echo what it is we already believe. But for anyone in a leadership position, this basic human urge can also be your kryptonite. If you surround yourself with too many like-minded colleagues, that is, you can create a culture of group think. That’s not good. Dissent has a significant value.

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