We are told that it is always better to have naysayers in our midst than a room full of “yes” men (or people, if you prefer).  This helps to keep things in perspective, can shakes things up, and/or open the group up to another way of looking at situations or ideas.  Why is it then, that when an opposing opinion is introduced, these individuals find themselves assaulted with, “just think positive” or the other classic “stop being so negative?”  Is it that the desire for constant and complete agreement for everything we do or say is an impenetrable human frailty?  For the sake of business success, I hope not.

I would suggest, that instead of shutting down an opposing opinion– dig deeper into the dissent; create an atmosphere where people don’t feel like they need to drink the Kool-Aid or risk being branded a non-team player.  Let’s change the way we look at a contrasting view and start encouraging this type of deliberation by calling it OPTIMAL THINKING.

Optimal thinking means that we take a realistic view of the situation, the good that it brings and the possible unpleasant “what ifs.”  With possible risks surfacing, teams are better prepared and can build the strategy that will help mitigate any events that may cause pain down the road.  If this is a client situation, then optimal thinking can be used as a tool that increases collaboration with the client, forging a greater bond through the ability to look ahead.  Encouraging this type of thinking means more brain power driving towards critical thinking and solutions.

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