Byron's Babbles

What’s The Point?

Posted in Amanda Ripley, Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, High Conflict, Leadership, Leadership Development by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on February 6, 2022

You guessed it! I am blogging about another quote in the great fiction novel Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir. Here it is: “What’s the point of even having a world if you’re not going to pass it on to the next generation.” Dr. Ryland Grace in Project Hail Mary. Now, I know I am opening up a touchy, okay highly contentious, topic here, but being a farm kid, as have all involved in the agriculture industry, I have always been very concerned with keeping our planet healthy. We have been a part of conservation efforts, precision agriculture to reduce the use of chemicals, practices which use less trips thus reducing emissions, and a host of other things. For me, this is good stewardship! I don’t need to belong to a group either believing in or not believing in global warming to love the earth. We all need to be good stewards of the planet. Period.

Personally, I believe that is what should be driving the conversation – good stewardship. This brought me back to some learning from Amanda Ripley and her book High Conflict: Why We Get Trapped and How We Get Out. She taught us that we need to recognize what each other cares about most. This was called being “hearable” in the book. “Hearable” means what our audience cares about most. For me doing my part in making sure we have a world to pass on to the next generation is about stewardship and care of our planet. We need to be scientifically thinking about how we become adaptive to increasingly variable weather. Farmers and agriculturalists have been professional adapters forever. We’re really good at responding to the challenge of adapting to difficult situations.

Ripley also taught us that “Each of us has an infinite number of identities, arranged in a hierarchy that changes all the time. We belong to groups we consciously recognize as well as ones we don’t” (High Conflict, p. 107) She went on to tell us that “Group identities are complicated, shifting, and powerful forces” (High Conflict, pg. 108). What I took from this is many times we let our group affiliations take us to high conflict. So, for me I don’t really belong to a camp. But then again I guess I do because of being a farmer – that puts me in a group that I will defend. Ugh! I just want to do my part for good stewardship and will have a difficult conversation with anyone about that and study what the science tells us.

I guess what I really want is good conflict not high conflict. In healthy conflict, Ripley told us “…there is movement. Questions get asked. Curiosity exists. There can be yelling, too. But healthy conflict leads to somewhere” (High Conflict, p. 107). We must find ways to not become enraged because we lose access to the part of the brain that generates curiosity and wonder. High Conflict described our ability to “expand the definition of us and work across differences to navigate conflicts” (High Conflict, p. 29). Can you tell you really need to read the book?

So, how about we all just be willing to have the tough conversations? So, how about we talk about ideas of how best to leave a better world for the next generations?

Does It Need To Be Said?

Last week I finished reading the great book High Conflict: Why We Get Trapped and How We Get Out by Amanda Ripley. I had the chance to hear Amanda speak at the ExcelinEd 2021 National Summit On Education back in November. She is an incredible speaker and an incredible teacher about conflict. I immediately put her book on my to read list. I highlighted and took a great deal of notes while reading and jotted down ideas for blog posts for reflection. So, watch for more posts like this one. During a leadership workshop I was facilitating this past week, a theme emerged with participants wanting to be heard and wanting to get better at hearing others. This made me think of one of the parts of the book where Gary Friedman (conflict mediator, author, and former trial lawyer), one of the case study subjects of the book, shared that a way he used to come out of high conflict was to ask himself three questions (p. 201):

  1. Does it need to be said?
  2. Does it need to be said by me?
  3. Does it need to be said by me right now?

It was stated that it was surprising how often the answer was “No.” These are simple questions, but very powerful. Ever since I read that first question I have been asking it a lot. And, guess what? The answer is “no” more than “yes.” This has helped me in two ways. First, it keeps me from saying those spur of the moment and reactionary things that come off as being snarky; sparking high conflict. It has also helped me focus more on what others are saying and really understanding them. I also believe there are many people who need to use this protocol of questions before tweeting. I can think of a few right now who need to be asking, “Does it need to be tweeted?” If you follow my rules for tweeting of light, bright, and polite you won’t need to worry about this, however.

Next time your in a meeting, discussion, writing an email, writing a letter, or writing a speech, first ask yourself, “Does it need to be said?”