A dare for the next time you’re in discussion with someone you disagree with: Don’t try to “win.” Don’t try to “convince” anyone of your viewpoint. Don’t score points by mocking them to your peers. Instead try to “lose.” Hear them out. Ask them to convince you and mean it. No one is going to tell your environmentalist friends that you merely asked follow up questions after your brother made his pro-fracking case.
As any debate club veteran knows, if you can’t make your opponent’s point for them, you don’t truly grasp the issue. We can bemoan political gridlock and a divisive media all we want. But we won’t truly progress as individuals until we make an honest effort to understand those that are not like us. And you won’t convince anyone to feel the way you do if you don’t respect their position and opinions.
When a designer friend of mine, Geoff, left Twitter a few years ago, the reason he provided really stuck with me. He said he was unable to approach problems anymore with a Beginner’s Mind. Instead of meeting each new challenge with an open mind and fresh enthusiasm, he let his past experiences limit his creativity and his positive outlook. In other words, when you’re the person in the room silently thinking “I know how this ends” or worse yet failing to put your best energy forth, it’s probably time to move on.