The first step towards winning an argument

The first step towards winning an argument
“There’s more than one way to look at a problem, and they may all be right.”
~Norman Schwarzkopf

Have you ever been totally certain you knew the right and best answer to a problem? You knew the best way to approach an issue, how to get the greatest outcome…only someone else was also completely certain that they knew the best answer, and it wasn’t close to the solution you came up with. And what if that someone was someone who really mattered to you, whose opinion mattered, who you needed agreement from, needed on your side? And they were steadfastly asserting that their “wrong” answer was the way to go.

This happens more often than any of us would like to admit. I see it in the organizations I consult with, hear about it from my coaching clients, face it, at times, in my own business, and run into such obstacles in my family life as well. So what do we do? How do we win the challenger over, convince them of the wrongness of their solution and the correctness of our own?

That, according to Norman Schwarzkopf, may be the first change we need to make in our approach – being aware of our absolute certainty of the ultimate and only rightness of our answer, our viewpoint of the problem itself. I have found, and seen in countless organizations, teams, and relationships that the first step to the truly greatest outcome is the ability to stretch our minds to accept other perspectives of the problem at hand, as well as other potential solutions. When I can stop being so sure of my own truth and the appropriateness of the direction I’ve chosen to take, when I’m willing to consider that another way to look at the problem may also be right, I benefit from outlooks, experience, knowledge, and ideas that more often than not, broaden my perception and heighten the final result. It also opens me up to see how best to frame and adapt my solution to align with the other perspectives.

Where have you not been willing to consider other views of the problem at hand, and the potential solution? How can you open your mind to those now? The next time you’re completely certain of what you know, ask others with opposing views to help you see broader.

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