From the Publisher – A Practice Worth Trying

Welcome to our annual Worth Trying issue. We began kicking off the year with this theme in 2011 and we’re pleased that it continues to resonate with readers. Throughout 2016, Out & About will be making suggestions the staff deems worthy of your time. Just look for the Worth Trying page in our Start section.

To be clear, this is not a “Best Of…” list. While that approach is a staple of many magazines, the truth is many of those themes are self-serving and veiled attempts to sell advertising. Sure, we’re all about selling advertising—it’s how we pay the bills—but we like to do things our way. So when it comes to endorsements, we prefer to temper the hyperbole.

The suggestions on the pages to follow are personal recommendations from our staff and contributors. These are things we’ve experienced, things we’d recommend to a friend. Give them a shot and let us know if you agree. While you’re at it, let us know of things you feel are worth trying. We’ll try them and maybe even share with your fellow readers.
Which is a perfect segue to a practice worth trying for each of us in 2016. Hey, ‘tis the season of resolutions and turning over a new leaf, right?

Today, we’re so consumed with getting an edge we’ve gone over the edge. We anticipate the worst and are suspicious of the best. What if we anticipated the best—without letting our guard down?

In November, I attended USA Cycling’s national conference. During his state-of-the-sport address, newly-elected USAC President Derek Bouchard-Hall, knowing there were many competing interests in the room, offered a few words of wisdom that resonated with me. It was advice he had received years ago. Once applied, it became a practice he found indispensable as he progressed in his career.

Before entering any important encounter, be it a business negotiation, community discussion, political debate… assume the other side is trying to do the right thing. Trust there is no hidden agenda. Believe your adversary’s heart is in the right place. Accept that negotiation is not a zero-sum game.

Assume best intentions drive the other side, he continued, and it’s remarkable how it leads to a more fruitful encounter.

Oh, I know what you’re thinking: Those are words of wisdom? Sure, and all we need to do is love thy neighbor and we’ll have world peace.

Not so fast. When is the last time you paused to consider that the other side might sincerely believe it was doing the right thing? Before you made assumptions about their motivation? Before you began focusing on ways to get an edge?

Today, we’re so consumed with getting an edge we’ve gone over the edge. We anticipate the worst and are suspicious of the best. What if we anticipated the best—without letting our guard down?

Naïve? Perhaps. But do you not agree that the discourse of today has deteriorated into bellicosity? Are you not turned off by today’s raucous, political tit-for-tat? Far too often we strive to win the argument through intimidation. Being louder certainly gets you noticed, but it doesn’t make you right.

So tone it down, listen with an open mind, and assume your opponent is trying to do the right thing. Aren’t you more receptive in a discussion if you feel the other side respects your opinion? At worst, it will produce a more civil dialogue. At best, you might even arrive at an ideal solution.

So, what do you think? Please comment below.