Commit to delivering

What do you value most?

Being right or getting things done?

If you spend time proving you are right, searching for evidence to argue against others, making sure everyone understands and recognizes your contribution, hoping that others will fail, things will be slow.

If on the other hand you are committed to delivering, being right becomes a nonproblem. You accept things and let go of things for the sake of a greater purpose.

It won’t take long to realize you can’t have both.

Not going to want to change

If you tell somebody they are stupid, they are not going to want to change.

If you make fun of their theories, point to their inconsistencies, denigrate their capacity for solid thinking, they are not going to want to change.

If all you give them is your version, for as much as sense as it makes, they are not going to want to change.

If you show them a world they cannot be part of, they are not going to want to change.

All of this can win a quick laugh and some superficial bond with those who think like you.

It’s not going to make things change, though.

Bans and productivity

Is the workplace the best place to discuss societal and political issues? No.

Should societal and political discussions be banned from the workplace? Also, no.

The problem with a ban is that it rarely hits where it aims. You might want to curb animated discussions on your internal tools and you end up making your people feel less comfortable expressing themselves.

We do live in challenging times. Most issues are polarized. Most fail to see the greys. Most feel the only possibility is to be fully in or fully out. And if your people want to talk about a delicate issue, your role as a leader is not to direct the conversation towards the appropriate forums, but rather to sit down with them and provide a safe forum for the discussion to happen.

Even if that means a loss in productivity.

False dichotomies

Two reasons why many arguments fail to move the conversation forward and develop the relationship – from the beautiful book by Steven Pinker, The Sense of Style.

  1. We approach the argument as if it were a dichotomy. Black or white. Right or wrong. Good or evil. For as much as this is convenient to survive, it is not a great representation of how things actually are. And it is certainly not a path to understanding.
  2. We make it personal. It is rarely about finding the truth or the better course of action. It is about beating your opponent. Who is motivated by the wrong values, less intelligent, and not as refined.

When we avoid falling into these traps, we find the place for learning and growth.

Arguments should be based on reasons, not people.

Steven Pinker