The Value of the "Naysayer and Antagonist"


cc licensed ( BY SD ) flickr photo shared by kaktuslampan

“Attuning yourself to others—exiting your own perspective and entering theirs—is essential to moving others. One smart,

easy, and effective way to get inside people’s heads is to climb into their chairs.” Dan Pink

Sitting in Eric Sheninger’s session yesterday at ASCD, he asked the question, “How do we deal with the ‘naysayer’ and ‘antagonist’ in our schools?”

As I thought about the question, I believe that we have to think more about listening to them and giving them an opportunity to speak publicly, as opposed to pushing them into creating a subversive culture.  Too often educators bring in educators to workshops that already agree with all of the ideas being shared and we are too often preaching to the “converted” and only confirming thoughts.  Their is power in bringing the “naysayer” into the conversation with others to hear the perspectives of educators from other schools.  If you can have the “naysayer” become the converted, can you imagine the impact that could have on staff culture?

It is easier to bring in people to meetings when everyone agrees with you; it is more important to bring in and listen to the people that don’t.  

The other thing that popped into my mind is that the notion of the “naysayer and antagonist” are all a matter of perspective.  I am both of these things depending upon who I am talking with.  When

speaking to Josh Stumpenhorst, I brought up this very notion and asked him to think of his wisdom and if he was either of these things.  He looked at me and stated, “I am a naysayer of the status quo.”  If Josh was in my school, he would be a champion of what I believe.  Put him in a different environment, and he might be considered a trouble-maker.

We have to continue to listen to different perspectives and not go from one extreme to another.  Educators can go from the notion that schools are highly content focused, to shifting to a school that is extremely process focused.  We need both elements not one or the other.

If change is going to happen, it has to be embraced by a wide range of people with a wide range

of thoughts.  Working together and listening to those who agree and disagree often helps to come to a better solution that works.

Always remember, no matter what your thoughts are, you are the “naysayer and antagonist” to someone.  Would you want to be heard?

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