Tip of the Week
Insurance Against Mediocrity
What it is: Refusal, denial, disagreement, saying
"no." It is the expression of opinion and a conversation
Important: Agreement can only have meaning to the degree we encourage
The Problem: Responsibility Held Too Tight
Dissent feels like an assault on your authority; it feels like
you're losing your ability to protect and control your children and, because of that, your kids are at
risk. By discouraging dissent you create a barrier to conversation--to your ability to
influence, you discourage your kids, and rob them of their obligation to consider all options and to choose
wisely. Only through voicing doubts and opinions can options be clarified and responsible
choices be made.
You are responsible to educate and protect your child to the extent of her
independence. As she becomes more independent, the responsibility to choose wisely shifts accordingly to
her. She will be called upon to make decisions without your guidance and therefore gradually becomes responsible
and accountable for her safety and happiness. The person who makes the decision is the one who is accountable.
Without a gradual transfer of responsibility we dangerously limit our kids’ ability to ensure personal
safety and happiness.
The Tip: Assume you don't
Make what you
don't know more interesting than what you do know. Intentionally create a conversation with a dissenting opinion
and practice active listening.
Pick a person subordinate to your authority -- a child or someone on your staff at work.
Step 2: Pick a topic with low personal attachment but one that you
are reasonably sure will meet with resistance. Not politics, religion, or social issues—something
on the scale of a restaurant choice.
Engage in a conversation with the intention to learn something new.
Assume the person is right and you are learning from his or her experience.
Dos & Don'ts
Do ask about her
doubts or reservation
Don't ask what's
wrong with your suggestion
Do be willing to
change your mind
give up your opinion--unless you find it
Do assume all the
reactions you have are about you (not because of the other person)
fill the space with your voice--you can
only learn if actively listening
Release -- we
can only let go of the doubts we have voiced so allow someone the opportunity to let go of some
Accountability -- comes when we are free to agree or to disagree
Responsibility -- for personal safety and happiness shifts to the
individual. Police, parents, laws, human decency, etc., are not the providers of security and
happiness to a passive person unwilling or unable to choose wisely.
Clarity -- is
the result of fully understanding all opinions.
Choice -- the
best choice becomes visible when all options are understood.
Individuality -- starts at the door of proclaiming a unique
view. It's a powerful day when you first proclaim that you are not just the son or daughter of
is the result of full participation whether in dissent or agreement.
is only possible through conversation and the word 'no' is a great
Remember the Bohr maxim: for every great idea, the opposite idea is equally
true. Think of the dissent conversation as a way to balance
• The Scales
• The Responsibility
• The Power
• The Wisdom
• The Conversation
Related Articles: Parenting Promises, Yelp.com and Parenting Promises,
Related Tip of the Week: Accept vs. Agree, Credibility, Manners,
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