“The thing I hate about an argument is that it always interrupts a discussion.”
~G.K. Chesterton

I actually hate this quote because it calls me out.

It reminds me that when I’ve chosen to argue, I’ve made a bad choice. And that I have a choice. It reminds me that when I dive into an argument with a colleague (or friend, or loved one), I have given up on having a discussion because the two can’t coexist.

I always counsel my clients to “get on the same side of a problem” with the people they’re in conflict with. “Get so that you’re both seeing the topic as a challenge you both need to solve, can solve, and commit to solve together,” I share. Seems like it’s time for me to take my own advice.

Because when I jump into an argument – when any of us jump into an argument – we are, by definition, not only on the opposite side of the problem from our opponent, but we have, with our argument, set ourselves and the other person as opponents. We’ve interrupted – and often terminated – our discussion.

How can I remember to pull back from an argument? How can I remember not to interrupt a discussion, especially when I really care about the topic? Even when I know I’m right and my colleague is wrong, or at least misguided. Even when I see the answer – blatantly staring me in the face – and I’m certain that my solution will be best for the team and the organization.

I need to pull back to try to understand their point of view and why they believe they’re right. I need to remember what I counsel – to try my hardest to stand in their shoes and get on the same side of the problem. Together. I need to aim to continue the discussion and not interrupt it with an argument. No matter how justified it seems in my mind.

How do you stay in discussion, and out of argument? Click here to comment.

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For support in staying in discussion, contact Lisa at lkohn@chatsworthconsulting.com.

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