Leaders sometimes find themselves in situations when meeting debate starts out as polite dialogue and then as emotions and passions take over, it erupts into heated argument and maybe red-faced name calling.
If you’re not careful you too can be drawn into the fray. After all as the leader you were just trying to facilitate debate and all of a sudden you’ve got two people who seem to be ready to pull out dueling pistols and step off ten paces. These idiots have disrupted your meeting and now you are mad at them for causing a disturbance and abandoning civility. If you are not careful what you say you could lose all control of the meeting (if you haven’t already).
How does a leader practice tolerance for another person’s opinions and beliefs?
Dictionaries explain that tolerance is “the disposition to be patient with the beliefs, opinions and practices of others, especially those differing from one’s own.” Some definitions say that tolerance is “respect” for such differences, others that it is a “permissive attitude” toward them — thereby suggesting the divergent ways that tolerance has been understood and practiced.
Leaders then, by these definitions, need to be:
- Respectful – Understand that there will be diverse opinions as you lead and let people know that their positions will be listened to and considered. Not only are you being respectful to them, your approach will win their respect.
- Patient – Someone who is passionate about a subject just wants to be heard. Being patient and listening intently as they express their views will show you truly care.
- Permissive – Create an organizational culture that welcomes diverse opinions. Demonstrate this by allowing thoughtful dialogue even though you may disagree with the subject.
Aristotle said: “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”
The practice of tolerance will raise your worth as a leader and a person. Let’s all try to be tolerance leaders.