Don’t take a side until you hear both sides

In a lawsuit the first to speak seems right, until someone comes forward and cross-examines (Proverbs 18:17).

We’ve often heard “there’s always two sides to every story.” Actually, there’s usually many sides to an issue. Though we know this is true, we often make premature judgments based on only one perspective. The challenge is to discipline ourselves to postpone judgment until we get all the facts and pursue other perspectives, not just the first one we hear.

      • When someone complains about someone or something, don’t solidify your thoughts or make a judgment until you talk to others who are involved and gather more information. Seek opinions that are different from what you’ve first heard. 
      • When you hear a pundit make his case about a particular issue (political, current events) don’t make up your mind until you’ve researched what the other side thinks. [See my post titled It’s hard to see all aspects of a complicated situation.]
      • Always get multiple opinions about important issues. For example, my car was running rough so I took it to a repair shop that analyzed the problem and wanted to charge me $1,200 for repairs. I got another opinion and had the problem fixed for $150.
      • Be suspicious of all marketing and advertising; you’re only hearing one side and it’s usually biased. [See my post titled Don’t fall for the celebrity effect.]

This lesson is particularly important for leaders because every decision you make (personnel, strategy, vision) is multifaceted and you must consider all variables. Continually search for alternative perspectives and pursue alternative narratives.

Action item — Analyze yourself: Do you ever make decisions based on limited information? Identify a time you did this.  

Discussion question — How can we be relatively sure that we’ve sought out all sides of an important issue?

8 Replies to “Don’t take a side until you hear both sides”

  1. Don,

    Another good article. How much better all facets our our society would be if we followed these guidelines. I have found that surrounding myself with good people is the key to making good decisions. Second is not to be afraid to include those of differing stances. Finally, to be open-minded and to remember that I don’t know it all. We must also keep God’s Word as our foundation of truth to bounce all ideas off.

    Chad

    1. Chad, I agree with everything you said in your response. As I get older I become more dependent on others to help make wise decisions. All of us are smarter than one of us.

    1. Martha, thanks for taking the time to respond. Yes, with age comes wisdom and perspective (usually). Take care.

  2. Don… That is the greatest cartoon I have seen in a long time! Also, your post is such good advice.
    Is it possible that the “Keep an open mind” thinking can sometimes be dangerous? i.e. when I sent my kids to college I said “don’t keep an open mind… when they try to convince you God is not who you think He is…or He doesn’t exist, etc.” Daniel “purposed in his heart” (made up his mind in advance not to be convinced to eat the king’s food).
    On the other hand, in support of your premise, I think we Christians too often lock in on non-essential theological positions without fair consideration of alternative positions held by “little jerks”…and I think that mentality tends to fragment the Christian community.

    1. Neil, thanks for responding. I do think it’s best to always keep our minds open to other perspectives. The truth is powerful, such that it can survive – and even be strengthened – by being challenged.

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