I often talk about the need for diversity in digital decision making groups. It is fundamental to hear different perspectives. Debate is critical as nothing about digital is black and white. Deciding how to navigate the path forward through the trade offs is never done well alone.
However, bringing together diverse groups and facilitating them is rare skill. And it is unlikely to be achieved by the facilitator alone. For it to work, there needs to be trust in group, the facilitator, and even the process.
We need to believe we will be heard, but not attacked. And there is a fine line between attacking and debating. The line usually has something to do with the idea versus the person.
And here lies in the rub as this is a dual responsibility. I need to be able to separate my idea or opinion from who I am or my identity. And so does everyone else in the group. The facilitator needs to draw out our differing opinions and ideas, while also calling out when the arguing goes personal. And so does everyone in the group.
Those in the diverse group need to believe that diverse opinions are important, which means their opinions or recommendations will not always be followed. But that is not a rejection of them as a person. In addition to believing diverse opinions are important, members need to want, no seek out, differing viewpoints.
Respecting the other is not about everyone seeing things the same way, that’s group think. Respecting the other is about believing another perspective which is completely different and perhaps even contrary to mine is as valid and important as mine.
It is not easy, but we can do it. Together. We do need to leave our echo chambers behind.