3 Clear Steps to Collaborate with People You Strongly Disagree With (And Eventually Win Them Over)

Maajid Nawaz is better-suited than nearly anyone to help discover a universal form of dialogue that allows us to tackle disagreements in our personal and professional lives.


Big Think Edge is a video-driven platform that catalyzes happiness and performance in professional environments by cultivating leadership, creativity, and self-knowledge. Learn more about Big Think Edge.

Maajid Nawaz knows something about differences of opinion: from adolescence to adulthood, his opinions about religion have changed more than most. From the age of 16 until his late 20s, Nawaz was a dedicated advocate of radical Islam, working to impose a fundamentalist sect on comparatively liberal societies. He underwent a conversion, however, away from religion and today he is as dedicated to the liberal cause of secular rights and freedoms as he was to Islam.

In the wake of the Paris attacks, Nawaz is better-suited than nearly anyone to help us dialogue over radical Islam and discover a universal form of dialogue that allows us to tackle disagreements in our personal and professional lives. And according to Nawaz, to dialogue is to tolerate. It requires three things from an interlocutor:

+ An emotional connection to the other person is necessary in the form of empathy. Too often our adversaries are dehumanized merely as vehicles for the opinion we disagree with. 

+ Find common ground so you can begin the conversation by discussing what you agree on. You can address disagreement later on.

+ Recognize the internal logic to someone's point of view. You've got to understand where someone is coming from in order to have a productive conversation. 

As living proof of his ability to dialogue sensitive controversy, Nawaz recently co-wrote Islam and the Future of Tolerance with America's leading critic of Islam, and of religious principles in general, Sam Harris. The work is a testament to the progression of ideas within society and within ourselves: Ideas change who we are and thereby change our world.

--

Learn more about Big Think Edge.

Related Articles

A controversial theory claims past, present, and future exist at the same time

Our experience of time may be blinding us to its true nature, say scientists.

Back to the Future.
Surprising Science
  • Time may not be passing at all, says the Block Universe Theory.
  • Time travel may be possible.
  • Your perception of time is likely relative to you and limited.
Keep reading Show less

Six disastrous encounters with the world’s most hostile uncontacted tribe

From questionable shipwrecks to outright attacks, they clearly don't want to be bothered.

Culture & Religion
  • Many have tried to contact the Sentinelese, to write about them, or otherwise.
  • But the inhabitants of the 23 square mile island in the Bay of Bengal don't want anything to do with the outside world.
  • Their numbers are unknown, but either 40 or 500 remain.
Keep reading Show less