Opinion polarisation and how to manage it at work

The world is full of divided opinions, and it feels like there’s more polarisation than ever before. When opinion polarisation occurs in the workplace and is handled poorly, it can be detrimental to relationships, productivity, and innovation. 

Does that mean we shut these conversations down?  

It’s human nature to feel passionate about our views, and to even discuss them others. We explore the science of opinions and how emotional intelligence helps people navigate them for the best possible outcome. 

Understanding opinions and how to manage them is key to persuasion and conflict resolution. 

In this episode of EI at Work, we’re joined by Dr Andy Luttrell, social psychologist, and Assistant Professor of Psychological Science at Ball State University. Dr Luttrell studies how people form, change, and express their opinions. He also produces and hosts the podcast Opinion Science.  

Dr Luttrell joins co-hosts Dr Ben Palmer (CEO Genos International) and Marie El Daghl (MD Chasing Albert) to discuss:  

  • What are opinions and how are they formed 
  • The difference between strong opinions and weak opinions 
  • The relationship between our opinions and feeling part of a tribe 
  • Understanding opinion polarisation 
  • Insight into ‘unfounded confidence’ 
  • The definition of moralised opinions  
  • The critical role of emotional intelligence in expressing and soliciting opinions 
  • How to be persuasive and outcome oriented when discussing polarised views 
  • Positive framing and how it helps you navigate the strong opinions of others. 
  • To shut down or not shut down heated arguments around polarised opinions – that is the question.  
  • The extent our mindset impacts how we enter discussions with polarised opinions  
  • How people higher in EI react when they are faced with a difference in opinion vs. someone with low EI. 

Recommended Reading 

If you’d like to learn more about polarised opinions and some of the related topics discussed on this episode of EI at Work, Dr Luttrell recommends You have more influence than you think by Vanessa Bohns. 

Even Bill Gates has polarised opinions on his mind. In his recent list of summer reading essentials, Bill Gates recommends Why we’re polarised by Ezra Klein. 

On the topic of positive framing for more meaningful debates around opinions, Dr Palmer recommends Don’t think of an elephant by George Lakoff. 

About Dr Andy Luttrell

About Dr Andy Luttrell

Dr Andy Luttrell is a social psychologist and an Assistant Professor of Psychological Science at Ball State University. His research centres around people’s opinions, with a particular interest in what happens when people moralise their attitudes. Along with how moral persuasive rhetoric can sometime be compelling, and other times backfire. Dr Luttrell also studies the feeling of ambivalence and the stability of people’s opinions over time. His research has looked at many different opinions, including attitudes toward social, environmental, political, and consumer issues. Dr Luttrell also hosts and produces Opinion Science, a podcast exploring the science behind our opinions, where they come from, and how they change.

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