Friendly fighting fuels friendships

I recently got into a pretty healthy argument with somebody I’ve known a very long time. Afterwards I felt pretty bad about it but as I thought it about it more, I realized that we’ve had plenty of arguments over a long period of time and we’ve always ended up coming around. Either somebody would see the other person’s point or we would agree to disagree but I never really held onto any bad feelings for very long. As I think about it a little more, I think it’s probably a pretty healthy thing. A lot of the best friends that I have and the people that I’ve known the longest are people that really challenge me. That’s something that is healthy and something that you should maybe on some level look for.

I’ve got some good friends that I’m politically aligned with. Our thoughts on a lot of things are aligned and while that’s all great, too many of the same voice in the room can become a problem. It doesn’t challenge you, doesn’t spur you to have any new thoughts, to come up with any new arguments, or really test you in any way. This lack of diversity in opinions around you probably doesn’t lend itself well to getting you somewhere as a person. Whereas the people that really push you to think about your beliefs or even simple decisions in a new way are incredibly valuable, from the sense of forcing you to think things through from different angles and understand them in a whole new way.

A lot of times, even things that you have as long held beliefs can get shifted a little bit if somebody comes at it from the right angle and I think that’s a great moment on some level. If somebody is able to make an argument that shifts your thinking on something even just a little bit, that is one probably a pretty good indicator of how good they are in terms of positioning their belief or their opinion. Maybe they brought something new to the table that you hadn’t considered before or whatever it is, I just think that we should welcome on some level people that push us to reconsider things. We should look for people who make us look at issues from new angles and we should really put a high value on those people in our lives. Those are the ones that force us to grow as people and not just stay wrapped into the same type of thinking that we’ve been able to get by with up to that point.

In terms of thinking of things from a how do I improve, how do I be a better me tomorrow than I was today point of view; those are the people that are going to help you get there. I’m curious what other people think. I’d love to hear if there are any good stories out there about people that have forced you to think about something that you believed was an unshakeable opinion but they managed to change your mind. Those are always interesting when you hear somebody was able to bring somebody across to a new way of thinking or maybe there was a big decision around a project and somebody just got you to shift your thinking based on how they positioned their argument. So I’m very interested to hear those types of stories.

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Henry Brown

Because I have always been somewhat of a contrarian have been on the other side of the coin alot of times…

In the mid 80’s after “arguing”/”discussing” the advantage(s) of every admin type having a PC for several months was able to convince the “management/budget people” to invest the money in putting a desktop computer at every desk in the organization I worked for. Several times in the year after I would have associates come up to me and thank me for moving the organization into the 20th century

With “social media” I have had a problem with some of my “friends” in that when we start to discuss things political the first reaction of them has been to “unfriend” me. Have had some success in getting the communication channels opened up again but it has not been universal by any means

Samantha McFarland

This is a great article for discussion. In life, there is a lot more gray than black and white. In the government, the same holds true. Laws and regulations can be interpreted in a variety of ways. People tend to interpret them to their favor – why wouldn’t they? The discussions that take place through “arguments” help see multiple sides of an issue or topic. It helps to prepare for other viewpoints. For me, I grew up learning not to ‘rock the boat’ and just listen to my elders, etc. I am now learning that discussing multiple viewpoints is extremely healthy.

I would like to add one note though – what one might think is just a heated debate, another might feel attacked. When discussing different viewpoints it is important to be respectful and use positive communication skills. Remembering things such as acknowledging that you heard the other viewpoint before stating your rebuttal, asking for clarification before refuting something stated, and not personally attacking the other person. When done in a proper manner, this type of discussion can stimulate all parties involved.

Dan Wendling

I have benefited from using this checklist.

7 questions you can use to diagnose whether a debate is becoming unproductive and dysfunctional

Michael Roberto, MBA instructor/writer/consultant

  1. Have people stopped asking questions intended to gain a better understanding of others’ views?
  2. Has the group stopped searching for new information?
  3. Have individuals stopped revising their proposals based on the feedback and critiques offered by others?
  4. Has no one asked for help with the interpretation of ambiguous data?
  5. Have people begun to repeat the same arguments, only more stridently and loudly over time?
  6. Has no one admitted concerns about their own proposals recently?
  7. Have less outspoken individuals begun to withdraw from the discussions?
Todd Solomon

Implicit in any assertion that one’s idea is correct is the difficult-to-swallow notion that the other’s is wrong. Often an argument persists less on the basis of evidence and more on the basis of ego-preservation (which is not unimportant). Manage that first, and your odds for an effective outcome improve considerably.