The value of disagreeing honestly

This post is being written on a momentous day in the history of my country: today, the UK is voting in a referendum to decide whether or not we should remain a member of the European Union. If you are an eligible voter still considering your options, I’m afraid I’m not going to give you any advice either way. Neither am I going to tell you which way I am voting.

This isn’t a general election where we can make a decision based on a party manifesto and choose who will represent us for the next five years. This is being described as a ‘once in a lifetime’ choice.

Over the last few months, I have talked with friends, family and colleagues about the issues. Like many people, I have read articles, listened to podcasts and watched debates in order to make an informed decision.

As no-one can say for sure what will happen whether we leave or remain, it seems that the campaigning has degenerated into a shouting match, characterised by scaremongering, propaganda and what would appear to be lies.

On the news yesterday, I saw two family members, one planning to vote ‘leave’, the other ‘remain’, verbally laying into each other, red-faced and spluttering with anger at the other’s position. Emotions are running high. We seem to be running low on respect for each other’s opinions.

Bill Bradley, former basketball Olympic gold medallist and former US Senator, talked in his book Values of the Game of the power of basketball to promote racial equality. As I read the following quotation from his book earlier this week, I realised how powerful and relevant these words would be if we were to replace his word ‘race’ with the word ‘opinion’.

Give respect to team-mates of a different race, treat them fairly, disagree with them honestly, enjoy their friendship, explore your common humanity, share your thoughts about one another candidly, work together for a common goal, help one another achieve it. No destructive lies. No ridiculous fears. No debilitating anger.

Today’s pebble for you to contemplate: what does ‘respect’ mean to you and how do you demonstrate that?

What do you think?

Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching. 

If you’d like to make progress in your work and life, why not email me to see how we can work together?



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