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

January 3, 2012

Free stock photo of administration, adult, arguing Stock Photo

We have all met people who seem to argue for the sake of arguing.  Some people just seem to need to find flaws in everything or disagree just to be disagreeable.  It is one thing to have a different point of view.  It’s quite another to always default to having a unique perspective.  Being objectively critical and becoming a crank are sometimes separated by a fine line.

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 individual opinions.  I have also learned it takes too much effort to spend your time “one-upping” other people, especially when you could be spending your time doing things that are more productive.  As the saying goes, “if you have to prove how smart you are to other people, then you may not be that smart.”

I am not advocating that you just go along and accept everything without dissent.  Constructive debate is important in all areas of 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, I encourage you to pick your battles and have a sense of proportion.  No one is always right about everything.  It’s always a good idea to think about your real intentions before arguing or disagreeing.  Be honest and ask yourself if you are focused on the issue at hand or winning a battle of opinions with someone.

We all know people that when they speak everyone else immediately listens. From my experience, these people never talk just to talk.  They are willing to yield the floor to others when they don’t have comparable expertise.  They are agreeable and supportive when it makes sense and seek to build on the ideas of others.  And, when they do communicate a differing opinion, they respectfully back up the position they take with logic, facts, and relevant experience. They never argue just for the sake of arguing, and neither should you.