The two most important things when in a discussion with a business colleague are your words and your intent. Those might also be the two hardest things to control when a discussion turns heated and slides into an argument. In those instances, professionals often forget their professional courtesy and go into “win” mode.
There are better and more productive ways to communicate in the face of disagreement, and while there are courses that delve into the finer details, we are going to focus on two key elements that we believe are at the cornerstone of a discussion turning from productive to doomed.
There is often a misalignment between what we mean when we say something and what the other person hears, especially when in a heated discussion where emotions are running high. When we are too focused on winning an argument or getting someone to switch their point-of-view, we are never going to listen effectively or notice when our words are doing more harm than good.
Try asking questions. If your goal is truly to drive change, you want to approach an argument by encouraging mutual understanding and the best way to accomplish this is to ask questions. That will showcase that you are open to their opinions and will allow them the safety to open up to you as well.
Relay back what you heard. After you have finished truly listening, try starting off your sentence with, “What I hear you saying is…” You will be amazed at how open someone is to your thoughts and ideas when they truly felt heard.
These two simple concepts will not only alleviate the defensive in your verbal sparring partner, but open up true listening and understanding in yourself as well. Why we all think our own arguments are the most logical and correct, there is often room for compromise.
“If winning an argument means prevailing over your opponents’ arguments then there are arguments that can be won,” says Roy Murad, Canadian Entrepreneur and Business Advisor. “If it means influencing your opponent to change his or her mind, then arguments are rarely won.”
It is better to drop the contentious issue for the time being and focus on those areas where there was agreement and hence issues where the opponent could be influenced. Your intent should never be to “win” an argument, but should be to have the issues heard and progress made. Easier said than done and while that attitude is not always shared by those on the other side of the table, leading effective argument strategies by example can be just the thing to drive an argument to an agreeable conclusion.
In the end, don’t be afraid to have those difficult conversations. Promote healthy and productive debate. It may just lead to the breakthrough you were all looking for from the outset.
About Roy Murad
Roy Murad is a father, husband, business advisor, investor, advocate for new business ventures, and consummate entrepreneur. Over the course of 35 years building businesses, guiding companies and identifying strong investment opportunities, while nurturing a thriving family, Roy Murad has amassed a wealth of experience; experience, that may be of value to others who are looking to shape a balanced and successful life experience.
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