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I often wonder why we are where we are with regard to the obvious lack of civility in public discourse today. Seldom can people disagree without being disagreeable.

Understanding is impossible without being receptive to consider other perspectives. As my children were growing up, I used to say, “Just because you have an opinion, doesn’t mean you should share it.”

Some might consider this an affront to free speech. I disagree with no intent to be disagreeable. Opinions that are well informed and based on research grounded in competing perspectives advances knowledge; everything else is noise—in my humble opinion.

Research suggests that when we are listening to others, frequently we are already formulating a response. Worse, we are framing our response in a “confirmatory bias” manner. This is part of the human condition.

Research also suggests that more than 80% of communication is nonverbal. Having just read, “Say it Straight, or You’ll Show it Crooked” by Abe Wagner, he reaffirms this research in thoughtful, informed and humorous anecdotes from his many years as a counselor, trainer and humorist. I highly recommend his work.

So, how do we combat these natural tendencies, and what does it have to do with Crisis1?

Opinion formed on information devoid of context and critical thinking does little to solve challenges. When someone expresses an opinion, I want to understand why and how he/she came to form this view. I am both amused and disappointed at individuals who are asked to opine on issues of national significance—not because they appear to be informed—but because of their prominence in modern culture.

In order to understand client challenges, we first must listen—critically, thoughtfully and completely.

At Crisis1, we want to understand issues that underlie root causes of problems for clients before we suggest solutions.

Do you?

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