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Leadership Thought #276 – Never Argue For The Sake Of Arguing

We’ve all met people who seem to argue for the sake of arguing and we also know how we typically feel about them.  Some people just have to have to find flaws in everything and/or disagree to be disagreeable.  Just like the parable of “the boy who cried wolf” if you are find fault with everything, then it begins to diminish how seriously people take your opinions as a whole.  You also put people immediately on the defensive.  It’s one thing to have a different point of view.  It’s quite another to always default to having a different perspective.  There’s a fine line to being objectively critical and becoming a crank.

I used to feel that as a leader it was my job to always have the last word and to be the smartest person in the room.  Thankfully, I no longer suffer from that affliction.  Events and circumstances have a way of humbling your ego and challenging your personal conceit.  It’s also too much effort to spend your time “one-upping” other people.  You could be spending your time doing more productive things like ensuring goals are met and work gets done.  And, as the saying goes, “if you have to continually prove how smart you are to other people, then you may not be all that smart.” At minimum, your emotional intelligence needs some work.

I’m not advocating that you just go along and accept everything that you hear or read.  Constructive debate is important in both work and life.  The best decisions are typically the result of working through differing opinions and alternative points of view.  Innovation is all about challenging status quo thinking.  However, as an individual, I encourage you to pick your battles and have a sense of proportion.  No one person is always right on everything.  In addition, it’s a good idea to think about your real intentions before arguing/disagreeing.  Are you honestly focused on the issue at hand or is more about you and how you want to be perceived?

We all know people that when they speak everyone else immediately listens. From my experience, these are the people who never talk just to talk; yield the floor to others when they don’t have comparable expertise; are agreeable and supportive when it makes sense; build on other’s ideas, and when they do communicate a differing opinion, back up their position with logic, facts, and relevant experience in a respectful way.   Never argue just for the sake of arguing.


2 Responses

  1. Interesting opinions conveyed in this article.
    I made a decision nearly fourteen years ago never to have an argument with another human being. I have been successful in this, albeit initially I had a challenge with myself around this choice because I was letting my ego get in the way. DIscussion, debates and exchange of ideas are useful until emotion (negative or positive) contaminates the contact. Emotion is necessary as a source of feedback about what I am doing and my style of thinking. So when I experience emotions I know that I am responsible for generating them since I believe, as an adult, that no-one else is responible for how I feel. I am responsible for every feeling I experience because I generate them all.
    I have observed in myelf and others that when we argue we are wanting two things: recognition of our point of view or to change the other’s. Once I recognised this in myself I believed it was important to let go of this attachment(s). In working on this part of me I let go of the need to argue.
    Of course I will continue to let people know what I think and believe, when invited, and to do so with respect and sensitivity. To be direct and not be cruel or brutal in that directness is a life and/or relationship skill. The moment I start experiencing emotions in my discussions I know then I am behaving from a place of attachment and then my contact with both myself and the other is under stress. I need to to then focus on my part in the contact rather than focus on the other.
    So I believe there is no value in any type of arguing as I have found all arguments in myself and others are ego driven.

  2. […] Leadership Thought #276 – Never Argue For The Sake Of Arguing (edrobinson.wordpress.com) […]

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