I recently listened to one of my favorite podcasts, Unlocking Us, with Brene BrownWhile I always glean some useful information from each episode, there was a topic in her latest, “On My Mind,” that really resonated with me.

She reflected on a quote by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, about the power of dissents. Dissents are written by one or more judges disagreeing with the majority opinion of a court. While these dissenting opinions are not binding, they can carry significant weight and are often cited and used to make changes and even reversals in the very laws they are written about.

Dissent has come to suggest not only strong dissatisfaction but determined opposition to a majority opinion. The word origin comes from Latin, dissentīre to disagree, from dis- 1 + sentīre to perceive, feel.

Her quote is, “Dissents speak to a future age.”

It’s more than saying others are wrong, and I would do it this way. Powerful dissents become court opinions, and gradually over time, their views can become the dominant view. So that’s the dissenters, hope that they are writing not for today, but tomorrow.

Our current climate is filled with criticism and blame, and dissenting is not that! Here is the difference.

Criticism is more about fault-finding and often reactive.

Dissent is much more thoughtful. Time is taken to understand the underlying factors and consider alternatives. It takes some time and effort.

So I’m challenging myself to form dissenting opinions vs. criticizing. The behaviors that are needed include:

  • Asking questions to fully understand the context of the situation.
  • Keeping my ego and emotions in check, particularly when my opinions are being challenged.
  • Considering the long-term, future implications.

Will you join me in forming some dissenting opinions and step away from cheap criticism?

May the memory of the Notorious RBG guide a thought-revolution!

Martha Duesterhoft is a Partner with PeopleResults. Follow her on Twitter @mduesterhoft or send your dissenting opinions to her via email at mduesterhoft@people-results.com.

Martha Duesterhoft