You got to know how to argue

Businessmen fighting June 4, 2001

To argue is defined as: to give reasons or cite evidence in support of an idea, action, or theory, typically with the aim of persuading others to share one’s view.

Most people don’t argue well because they fear the interpersonal discomfort of conflict. This only creates a sense of Artificial Harmony where conflict is taboo and inordinate amounts of time and energy are spent trying to avoid the kinds of debates that are essential to any great team.

Avoiding conflict to keep from hurting feelings encourages dangerous tension, posturing, and people turn to back-channel personal attacks which are far nastier and more harmful causing all relationships to deteriorate. Those who avoid conflict actually doom themselves to revisiting issues again and again.

Most conflict is healthy as long as it is productive ideological conflict and not destructive fighting and interpersonal politics. Leaders who avoid conflict when its necessary and productive are encouraging dysfunction to thrive. Sometimes as a leader you even have to sit down and MINE FOR CONFLICT. Conflict is possible on a good team because members don’t hesitate to engage in healthy debate. Backlash of being punished or punishing someone for what’s interpreted as destructive and personal doesn’t exist.

If you don’t argue very well, frustrations will eventually surface in the shape of subtle comments or bottle up emotions that eventually spew to the surface by biting someone’s head off. If have to get comfortable to the idea of interpersonal discomfort.

INTERPERSONAL DISCOMFORT – Not wanting to let someone know that their standards are too low so you tolerate the behavior and avoid the drama

We must push to solve the problem but push in a way that doesn’t tick people off.  Push as if they mean well but need a little fine tuning.

Keep you calm and share your opinions that will be good for the group as a whole.  Conflict is healthy when it solves a problem.

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5 thoughts on “You got to know how to argue

  1. Very true. My boss and I have learned that we have to express our concerns and issues with each other or they will bottle up and resentment builds. I’d much rather have some conflict that clears the air than the sense of artificial harmony – and I love that term by the way!

  2. Reblogged this on bruceehoffman and commented:
    Can’t argue with the imperatives described in this article…

  3. Leonor says:

    Reblogged this on Seeding The Landscape….Agility For Agile Minds and commented:
    This post covers exactly what is experienced at my latest engagement. No one really talks a about the elephant in the room. Conflict is avoided, thus good dialogue never happens. Anyone who raises issues is considered “negative”, but this puts these teams at odds.
    If you’ve been reading my blog, you know some of the issues the teams have faced. But, despite these challenges they want to succeed. It is up to leadership to allow them to succeed, by not running away from conflict. A healthy debate helps everyone to learn and grow.

    What are your thoughts? How do you help your teams succeed?

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