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February 26, 2012

Tip of the Week  Lorraine Esposito, Certified Professional Coach

Insurance Against Mediocrity 


What it is:  Refusal, denial, disagreement, saying "no."  It is the expression of opinion and a conversation starter.

Why It's Important:  Agreement can only have meaning to the degree we encourage and support dissent

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 know

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.


Step 1:  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.


Step 3:  Engage in a conversation with the intention to learn something new.

  • Why her opinion matters to her
  • Where his doubts came from

Step 4:  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

 Don't give up your opinion--unless you find it needed updating

Do assume all the reactions you have are about you (not because of the other person)

 Don't 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 doubts.
  • Accountability -- comes when we are free to agree or to disagree without penalty.
  • 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 someone else.
  • Ownership -- is the result of full participation whether in dissent or agreement.
  • Influence -- is only possible through conversation and the word 'no' is a great conversation starter.



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,


Chime in >>What do you think? Share your thoughts.

Email Lorraine with your question

















“Discussion in America means dissent.” James Thurber








 “In a democracy, dissent is an act of faith.  Like medicine, the test of its value is not in its taste, but in its effects.” –      J. William Fulbright












“In a number of cases, dissenting opinions have in time become the law.” Charles Evans Hughes