I have yet to meet a person who likes criticism. Instead, what most of us do is contract inside when we hear a criticism. Sometimes we respond defensively, sometimes we add the criticism to our pile of self-judgment, and sometimes we deflect and ignore what’s being said. In the process, we rarely manage to make use of the vital information and opportunities that useful feedback can provide: learning, better teamwork, or simply insight and understanding.
The first time I heard that groups thrive on dissent, I didn’t like the idea. It came up in conversations with Tom Atlee of the Co-Intelligence Institute, back in the mid-1990s. Tom was clear, based on his experience in activist movements and especially on a cross-country peace march, that dissent is essential for groups to function intelligently. So much so that if a group had too little dissent, he advocated for actively cultivating it to keep the group fresh and creative.