The Second Voice

So often the greatest ideas languish in the minds of their creators for want of a second voice to echo the thought, modify it and amplify it. We fear not only the rejection of the idea, but the noisy push-back. Not only will this person reject my idea, we think, but they’ll reject it so vehemently that their own voice will drown out mine, and all we’ll have is more chaos and noise than we would have if I had just stayed silent.

If there is one tactic I soundly reject in virtually all its forms, it’s “shouting down.” Dismissing an idea or argument simply by being louder in your disagreement. Doing more than disagreeing – mocking, belittling, and attacking.

It’s terrible for the person who offered you the gift of their idea – and their respect, in showing it to you. But it’s terrible for you too, if you do it. “Shouting down” is loud, and others hear it – that’s the point – and it doesn’t take long before you find yourself bereft of new ideas because no one wants to share them with you. This is how echo chambers form.

Some ideas, even at their core, are abhorrent. But shouting down someone who shared an abhorrent idea with you doesn’t eliminate that evil – it hides it, forces it into other channels, and hardens the heart of the person who carries it. That hardened heart becomes armor against others who might try to win over that person with the power of better ideas. If you shout someone down, you just add a brick to their fortress. You can’t bully someone into goodness.

Listen to those ideas. Understand the people that have them, and why those ideas found root in that person’s heart. Only from that position can you influence.

I will listen, if you’ll let me. Anyone, everyone. I won’t shout you down. I encourage everyone to do the same.

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