Since I entered grad school, I have gotten into posting comments to news stories and blogs. I love posting to Harvard Business Review. Somehow it makes me feel like I am attending Harvard instead of a small, public University in southern Oregon.
I now also enjoy watching TED videos. These videos are filled with ingenious notions that people don’t just think about, they take action on their ideas and want to spread the word. WOW. Can you imagine taking an idea to fruition and then being asked to speak on the topic in front of the most influential people in the world? I can. More than anything I want to present my ideas and accomplishments in front of successful and compassionate people. In fact, the book I am currently writing is for no other reason than to be on the Colbert Report. I cannot wait to meet Stephen Colbert.
As I read and watch people’s innovations and research, I become more convinced that anyone can do it. You just have to be driven and make the important connections. You have to share your story with people (as many people as possible), which means you must have a story to tell.
While watching this fun graphic illustration talk about empathy, I marvelled over the concepts, the presentation, and the feeling it left me with. Then I read the comments on TED.com.
What strikes me is the immediate fault people jump to. There will always be disagreements. But why jump straight to the dislike and never mention what it was about the story that made you read or watch it until the end. At Toast Masters, we are there to help each other improve. We don’t always agree on our point of view. But the point is not to agree, it is to be able to effectively communicate your point to an audience.
What we do is sandwich our comments: what we like, what we didn’t like, and what we thought was really strong. Then we leave the presenter with ways to improve the presentation – such as speak louder, stop moving your arms around so much, strengthen your opening statement, consider not alienating people by saying X.
Everything that is presented will have an opposing reaction. People are opinionated. Those people who like what you said, will tell you straight to your face. Those people who oppose you will post a comment on a blog. What I propose is instead of jumping straight to “you are wrong,” start by saying why you read or watched it in the first place. Then share the area of disagreement. Then end by acknowledging the work that was put into the presentation and the research. In the end, the real objection is the fact that this person’s opinion (or research) is being presented to a large audience and your opinion is not. But your opinion is still worth being heard in a civil and intellectual manner.
We live in a world of many opinions and we have neighbors of different religions, races, political affiliations, etc. But at the end of the day, we all pull into our drive ways, get out of our cars (or off our bicycles) and crawl into our beds to rest our bodies so we can tackle the struggles of tomorrow. We can’t criticize our neighbors constantly or we will get no rest. At some point, we must realize that everyone is unique and we will not always agree. This is the art of conscientiousness.