Being sceptical is ok. Being right is not.

I am a trained optimist. Martin Seligman would call it ‘Learned Optimism’. Wrote a book all about it. I reckon my dear ol’ Mum role modelled it well too.

So when I was with people who questioned everything and didn’t believe easily I would become frustrated. Why do you see the glass half empty? Oh you doubting Thomas. I could feel myself thinking and often saying. Let’s see how it can work rather than can’t.

This one liner in The Fifth Agreement got me; ‘Be sceptical is masterful because it uses the power of doubt to discern the truth’. Whoa!  Read it again. It’s pretty cool.

It allows us to ask things like;

What’s true and what’s not true?

Is this the reality of what could or could not happen or a made up one?

These are cool questions to ask. As long as we stay curious and open to learning. As long as we are not wedded to our truth being THE truth. That we learn to let our need to be right be replaced with our need to learn.

So what’s wrong with seeing things from all angles?  Maybe it’s not their way of thinking but our reaction to it that’s the issue?

Incivility is on the rise. Significantly. Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business did a consecutive study on people being treated rudely at work at least once a week. This is just people speaking or acting poorly with each other.  In 1998 it was 25% and in 2016 we find it’s now 62%. With all our commitments to creating ‘safe’ workplaces this is not ok.

We need to learn to have healthy conflict. Where we disagree with respect. Where it inspires new thinking and new ideas. Priya Parker, an expert on the ‘art of gathering’ tells us we should embrace a specific dispute and then ‘cause good controversy that creates heat on good conditions’. I love being explicit about doing this and that we can learn to do it well.

If we want to discuss new products, re-wire strategies, even dare to disagree with current thinking then let’s get all negative, sceptical and challenging thoughts on the table and go from there.

If you want to learn how to create healthy conflict, to debate in a way that unites a team not disconnects then ask me about our program; ‘Work as One’.

It’s a great way to start the new year and make decisions about what you will Keep, Kill and Tweak for this new future of uncertainty and change.