Why I’m spoiling for an argument

I notice going Sober for October has come around again. Soon it will be Movember. But personally, I’m looking to an Argumentative Autumn as my route to self-improvement.

The thing is, it’s dawning on me that most of my conversations these days end in violent agreement. And most people I talk to are, well, quite a lot like me. Take stress and workload, for instance – I’m always telling people how manic I am right now; and they invariably concur – “the pace is insane this week/year/decade!”. But surely that can’t be everyone’s experience?   Where are all the laidback dreamers?

And of course as a boss, if I’m stressed, I create stress in others. Employees who started out with creaseless brows and sunny temperaments, have developed alarming tics – either that, or they manage their schedule to minimise contact with Hurricane Darren.

But it’s not just about stress, the scope for stubborn consensus is everywhere. It’s pernicious and it can store up some nasty shocks. Look how astonished the liberal accord was about Brexit and the election of Trump.   When we only connect with like-minded people, not only do we miss the true picture, but we somehow become weaker in pursuit of our own ideals and values.

So that is why I’m going to spend the next three months seeking out dissension. I’m going to zoom on the people saying “No” and “That’ll never work” and I’m going to properly listen to them. I believe it’s known as Cognitive Diversity, and I fully expect to emerge a wiser, more rounded human being. Anyone who says different is…very welcome to do so.

Darren O’Conor