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If you do not adapt, if you do not learn, you will wither, you will die.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

How to argue effectively

Sure, numerous conversations and meetings benefit from subtlety and agreement. Yet at least as many conversations and meetings require all involved to be able to argue effectively, to candidly speak out, to respectfully tell it as they see it, to challenge conventional wisdom without sugar-coating, and to openly call out mishaps, cowardice, ego-trouble, misguided intentions, or simply an opposing view or unlikely perspective.

So how do you do this thing called ‘arguing effectively’?

1.    Objectives must be shared, explained, and understood.
2.    Intentions must be constructive and trusted.
3.    Substantive debate must be everyone’s priority.
4.    Empathy and curiosity must accompany candor and persuasion.
5.    Participants must be willing to assume the other person’s position.
6.    Participants must distinguish between the person and their opinion.
7.    Respectful, straight-talk feedback must be given and received.
8.    Dominating, condemning, remaining locked in the past, and attacking someone’s character must not be tolerated.  

It is impossible and highly undesirably to eliminate all arguments from conversations and meetings. It is possible to argue respectfully and constructively so you can dive deeper into important topics and clear the air of otherwise suppressed, maybe even toxic thoughts and emotions. All involved need to realize that a lack of agreement does not have to equal conflict, and that deeper connections, smarter solutions, and stronger commitments result from expressing, respecting, and seriously considering a contrarian’s point of view.

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