How do you build consensus when everyone else is wrong? It’s an enormous problem. It’s increasingly relevant these days, as pandemics rage and politicians argue over the correct courses of action while lives hang in the balance.
My opinions are right of course, as are the opinions of those who agree with me. That should be obvious to anyone with even the tiniest bit of a brain.
My thoughts on viruses, economics, equality, healthcare, abortion, religion are top-drawer; I know the way and I know the truth. And if everyone would just get on board, the world would be a much better place.
Of course, there are others out there, wrong-headed people who think their opinions are equally valid. People who have the nerve to believe their own opinions. People who think the things they think are correct.
Say that three times quickly.
This “I’m right, you’re wrong” dynamic is built on the idea that interactions are necessarily win-lose and pushing for the win is always the correct choice. So much of our sense of self is incorrectly tied up in believing ourselves right. Convincing others is lovely confirmation of our worth. They cave, we win.
But it’s tiring to live that way and although I am right about everything, starting with that belief is not conducive to good relations.
Which bring us to the win-win scenario.
I read about it in a Stephen R. Covey book years ago. It seemed like an eminently logical way to function and I find logic very appealing.
The idea is this:
“Win-win sees life as a cooperative arena, not a competitive one. Win-win is a frame of mind and heart that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all human interactions. Win-win means agreements or solutions are mutually beneficial and satisfying. We both get to eat the pie, and it tastes pretty darn good! *
We’ve given up on the idea that this is possible, it seems, at least to a degree. We’re becoming more entrenched, more wedded to our groups and our tribes.
I believe in my opinions and ideas and ideals. I think they’re correct, that my way is the correct path to walk. But then, so does the person whose opinions and ideas and ideals are different than mine.
When did we get so intolerant of differences? When did we decided that utter uniformity was the answer? Why can’t we both walk our own paths (assuming they harm none) and smile at each other when we cross and interact.
To be fair, some differences are serious. For instance, I’m never going to be happy with a society that thinks a level of violence against women is okay. “No violence against those weaker” is one of those universal opinions I hold that I will not be swayed on. I find it difficult to even listen to arguments justifying the violence. It’s one of those “fundamental values” kinds of things.
But there are other areas where I’m sure I’m right and it’s possible I might not be. It’s possible my way may not be the only way. It’s possible there’s room in the world for differences.
It’s hard though, to give up on wanting to be the winner.
Too often, I don’t look for the win-win when I debate. I instead wait impatiently for people to stop talking so I can point out the errors in their opinions. Which means I’m not actually listening. Without attentive attention, there is no chance at accommodation or agreement.
In order to have a win-win outcome, I need to engage with an actually considering manner. Engage, debate, and try and figure out why we have such differing points of view and how we can come together in agreement. How we can shift away from tribalism.
I’ve spent years trying to figure out why I think the way I do about things. I haven’t spent nearly enough time trying to figure out why other people think the way they do. I analyze emotions, I listen to pain. Why is listening to their points of view any different? Shouldn’t I be as open?
How do you build consensus when everyone else is wrong? By learning that the question itself is flawed and part of the problem.