Can You Argue Your Way to Success?

Can You Argue Your Way to Success?

You might be thinking that arguments only lead to frustration. While this can sometimes be true, I believe that if you want to empower your people, your team should argue its way to success. As long as everyone has the best interests of the team in mind, arguments are a very effective way to come up with fantastic new ideas and affirm the current ones.

Arguments lead to Discovery

Here's why:

1: Arguments lead to discovery

If your team has differing viewpoints, and they express their opinions, you'll hear more ideas if they argue than if your team keeps quiet. Go into your meeting with an open mind; ask your team what they think about different ideas and plans of action. They might have a perspective you didn't think of on your own. With the mindset of “Seek first to understand, then be understood”, your team can argue its way to discovery.

In John Maxwell's The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork, he says,

When we are brainstorming and planning, I want all the ideas and criticisms out on the table. We need an opportunity to hash things out. But once we leave the room, we must be united.”

Encourage your team to argue for discovery and you'll argue your way to success.

2: Arguments indicate passion

If two people are arguing, they're probably very passionate about what they're discussing. I've always said, “If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything.” If you're arguing, you're taking a stand. As long as you keep an open mind, and be willing to change it, your passion can drive your objectives and move the team toward the goal.

In Good to Great, Jim Collins makes the observation that

all the good-to-great companies had a penchant for intense dialogue. Phrases like ‘loud debate,' ‘heated discussions,' and ‘healthy conflict' peppered the articles and interview transcripts from all the companies” 

that he and his team studied. Collins went on to say that the “great” companies' processes were “more like a heated scientific debate, with people engaged in a search for the best answers.

If your team is passionate, it means they care. Tap into their collective energy and argue your way to success.

3: Arguments fully vet ideasArgue Your Way to Success

Whenever I want to get the opinions of the people on my team, the people on my personal board of directors, or even family, I present them with data and ask for their thoughts. The key here, to truly get their original ideas, is to not impose your beliefs upon the data or theory.

Don't qualify your statements with, “I like this because…, what do you think” or, “I'm not sure this is the right way to…, what do you think?” Create an atmosphere of discussion, where not everyone has to agree, so that you identify weak points in your plan.

Having people try to poke holes in my strategy allows me to strengthen those pieces and turn those weak points into areas of strength. After all, if your theory hasn't been challenged or tested, it won't have much credibility.

Arguing can strengthen your ideas and your resolve. Find and eliminate your weak points, and argue your way to success.

Below is a video of Margaret Heffernan's Ted talk entitled, “Dare to Disagree”. In her talk, she poses the idea that, “A fantastic model of collaboration [is] thinking partners who aren't echo chambers.” I enjoyed listening to her speak and I hope you will too.


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