The Leadership Gift Conflict Rule No. 2: Validate Other People’s Point of View

One of my best Leadership Gift tips originated from my friend and mentor Bill McCarley who suggested that I “try on as many different ways of knowing as possible.”

The key, Bill told me, is to be willing to “try on” a way of knowing (i.e., another’s belief system) without necessarily choosing to practice or adopt it.

He recommended, for example, that I perceive fully what the belief systems would be for, say, a bigamist society, a hardened criminal, or even just a patronizing CEO.

Many of us won’t let ourselves imagine a point of view different than our own because we are threatened by the thought that another belief system might actually be valid.

For such a person, validating another person’s point of view is equivalent to invalidating one’s own. And that’s very limiting.

How insightful! What an invitation to perceive the world, and to dramatically expand my own perspective. And in order to do so, I would accept that my perspective is not the only
valid one, that in fact there are lots of valid points of view.

How does this practice of validating other people’s views help you to address conflict?

First, it’s humanizing. By honoring another person’s viewpoint you are much less likely to escalate the conflict.

Second, you’ll be more creative in your search for solutions if you believe that the conflict is a legitimate clash of interests and viewpoints.

Third, it gets you off of your point of view so they can get off of theirs.

For contrast consider that the most popular conflict resolution process used in our culture is debate. In a debate, each party “stands” on their point of view and attacks the other, often by attacking the person. Research shows that after one round of debate, the two debaters have moved 15  percent farther apart from where they started.

Collaborative problem solving starts with the recognition that there are many valid points of view.

Get Started With This 5-Minute Stretch

Think of a conflict with another person you are experiencing right now. From what you know about this person’s interests and positions, see if you can grasp his or her belief system.

Further, imagine how his or her interests and positions make perfect sense. Finally, consider how to resolve the conflict with this new information.

Christopher Avery, PhD, is a recognized authority on how individual and shared responsibility works in the mind and an advisor to leaders worldwide.

Leaders and coaches: Get Christopher’s best team building and leadership strategies collected over two-plus decades of solving teamwork problems for smart people. Attend the acclaimed Creating Results-Based Teams workshop, or get this FREE Special Report while it lasts: The Five Flawless Steps to Building a Strong Executive Leadership Team.

Posted in Leadership on 04/08/2013 08:23 am
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