I used to think arguments were a bad thing. Two people armed with their strong views jostling to be the winner usually worked out bad for me. I was often less knowledgeable and slower in thought than my combatants.
I then stumbled across this old quote – ‘Arguing with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.’ I soon realised three things. Firstly, I was arguing with the wrong people. Secondly, I had to listen objectively a lot more. And finally, there should be three winners resulting from a good argument. You, your combatant, and the final position you both arrived at that benefitted from your collective knowledge and experience.
I might be pressing the self-destruct button on my career here, but there’s nothing I enjoy more than a good argument with my boss. I might be so bold and to say I think she enjoys it too. I am very fortunate that she is the type of boss who despite having her own strong views on many things is also genuinely interested in the views of many others.
We tend to start off far apart but almost always end up with a shared view. For example:
- Is it ‘constructively provocative’ or an ‘irritant’ to tell the legal profession they need to wake up to a customer centric technology driven world?
- Is LinkedIn becoming more valuable or less valuable the greater the number people posting on it?
- Is our business about ‘Change’ or is it about ‘Preparing for the Future’?
We arrived at a good point of view on each of these (which we will share in due course) because of three things.
- We provide headspace within our business to develop our individual perspectives. We have a lot of smart people so there’s no point in keeping their views locked up.
- We make it an expectation to share these perspectives, and create the environment for having sometimes random arguments. We need to work especially hard at this during Covid restrictions.
- Everyone involved needs to commit to the use of reason.
The next time someone tells me ‘arguing with a fool only proves there are two’ I might just argue with them.