Stop destroying and start building : A plea to recapture civility

Conversation has become war.  Just look at the headlines:

  • Man destroys anti-abortion argument with a simple question
  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez DESTROYS Conservative Troll
  • Massive research analysis destroys conservative argument against letting trans people transition
  • Professor ‘Totally Destroys’ Student In This Email After He Asks For A Grade Bump
  • Law Professor Absolutely Destroys Student Letter Protesting Her Wearing a ‘Black Lives Matter’ T-Shirt
  • Ben Shapiro Destroys Argument That A ‘Fetus’ Isn’t a Human Life
  • Dinesh D’Souza Destroys SJW Student in A Heated Argument
  • ICE T Destroys Liberal Gun Argument in Minutes
  • 15 Statistics that Destroy Liberal Narratives

It’s no longer enough for a person to simply make his or her point. It’s not even enough to win the argument.  Now, complete destruction of the other person’s argument (and often the person him or herself) is the goal.

And this isn’t just at the national level.  It happens in the workplace as well.

Why do we have such a strong need and get so much satisfaction from destroying another person’s argument?

The rise in the need to destroy the other person seems strongly correlated  to the rise in tribalism and polarization.  We’re choosing teams and the other team must be put down.

Or, perhaps it’s feelings of fear, helplessness, and powerlessness that have driven us into fight mode.

A problem with this new mindset is that it often doesn’t stop with the idea.  Once a person’s beliefs get into our crosshairs, so does the person. We begin dehumanizing him or her.  We stop listening. We stop caring.

It’s hard to move forward as a business or even as a society without humanizing, listening, and caring.

We need to take a collective breath. It’s time to reset our collective amygdalae and exit freeze, flight, or fight mode.

We need to stop seeing those with whom we disagree as mortal enemies.

In her book Blind Spots: Why Smart People Do Dumb Things, my friend Madeleine Van Hecke provides a simple suggestion; shift from being furious to being curious.

Stephen Covey even turned the idea into one of his habits of highly successful people: seek to understand.

Instead of seeking to destroy, seek to understand.  Why does that person disagree with you on an issue?  What underlying value is he or she trying to express?  What is he or she trying to accomplish through his or her idea or position? What fears or concerns are driving his or her reactions and beliefs?

You may find out that you have more in common than not.  You may even discover that the other person is a warm, caring, human being with similar needs, dreams, desires, and goals as you.  You may even learn something.

It takes less effort to destroy than to build.  But, few societies, businesses, and people have ever succeeded through a strategy of destruction.

Stop trying to destroy other people’s arguments. Instead, try understanding.

Or, in the words of Alicia Keys:

Oh, maybe we should love somebody
Oh, maybe we could care a little more
So maybe we should love somebody
Instead of polishing the bombs of holy way (Alicia Keys, Holy War)

It will serve you better in the long run.  And, your organization and our world depend on it.


Brad Kolar is an executive consultant, speaker, and author with Avail Advisors.  Avail helps leaders simplify their problems, decisions, data, and communication.  Contact Brad at


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