In a polarized world — one that disagrees upon seemingly everything — I believe it is important to consistently surround yourself with people who think different than you. I said think, not just look, as I believe it is critical to seek not only surface-level diversity (gender, race, etc.), but also a deeper diversity of thought.
How does one do this without making tons of enemies and insulting tons of people? How does one expose his or herself, consistently, to the other side of the table?
I am not sure there is a clean recipe you can follow. Rather, I think it is about awareness. It is about understanding implicit bias in conversation and “truth-seeking” such that you are trying to read or talk to a contrarian perspective. Contrarianism is all relative…so be sure you are looking for independent thinkers who are out of your bubble.
But once you are in these discussions, I think the most important thing is to be honest with the goals of the debate.
My favorite question to ask…especially when I am “arguing with someone…” is whether or not there was anything could say to change people’s minds. And if the answer is no, what is the point of the discussion?
Is it to wave our ego in the air?
I ask myself the same question before embarking…why “debate something” if the other person has no intention whatsoever in coming to an agreement.
I think you can also use these question in various other environments. For instance, if you are applying for a job, or perhaps asking for startup funding, and you get denied…you can always ask them…”what would make you change your mind?
I think this is a really hard question to answer and most people do not make “specific and purposeful enough decisions” to be able to answer it cleanly.
Often people will come back with a specific “prove this” or “get this experience.”
You can ask why those things are important.
And then you can go do those things.
Originally published at Jordan Gonen.