Arguing Productively

Published Tuesday, May 01, 2012 8:45 PM

Parents of bickering siblings may wish their quarrelsome kiddies would just stop arguing already, but the fine art of how to disagree agreeably is a crucial skill.

Too often arguing is seen as counterproductive, or emotions are allowed to trump reason and arguing becomes combative. When people disagree disagreeably, the opportunity to achieve consensus or to come up with a winning idea is lost. Done properly, arguing has upside.

Argue to Communicate

Gun shy about arguing? Look at disagreeing as just another way to communicate. In How to Disagree Agreeably,  Real Simple Magazine offers a primer on how to compromise, clear the air and fight fair. Tips include: wait until your calm, pick your battles, be respectful and consider compromise, among others. Read on for in depth strategies on how to disagree with everyone from your boss, to your co-workers to your significant other.

Argue to Innovate

Arguing can be constructive, rather than destructive. Fast Company profiles one company that uses arguing, rather than brainstorming, to generate out-of-the box thinking. In Innovation Is About Arguing, Not Brainstorming. Here's How To Argue Productively,  employees at one design shop chronicle how they use the model of "Argue. Discuss. Argue. Discuss." as the "special sauce" that allows for continual innovation. The goal? Deliberative discourse that achieves allows people to work together to solve a common problem versus trying to "win."

To work, deliberative discourse relies on certain key points including:

  • No hierarchy. All players are welcome to voice ideas and opinions.
  • Say "no, because..." Offer an explanation of your no, this both soothes ruffled feathers and opens the door to dialogue.
  • Diverse perspectives. Curate your group so different viewpoints are represented.
  • Focus on common goal. Find the common ground and avoid dwelling on the differences that might drive you apart.
  • Have fun. Enough said!

 

Do you ever argue constructively? What are your tips for keeping arguments agreeable versus disagreeable? Share your thoughts here and on the Pendaflex Facebook page.

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