Are not.

Am too.

Are not!

Am too!

That’s an argument no one wants to have. With good reason. It’s going nowhere.

Good arguments, or passionate debates, are necessary for great relationships to grow. Look into any meaningful relationship – marriage, friendship or business – and you’ll find productive conflict. Conflict is a reality. It simply means that we disagree; we have divergent ideas or interests.

It’s a good thing that the fetching Mrs. Horton and I sometimes disagree about things in our family. It’s in the midst of arguing it out that we get better ideas, clearer thinking, and stronger resolution.

Lets draw a clear line between productive ideological conflict and destructive fighting and interpersonal political assaults. We can productively argue over concepts and ideas. We cannot have productive arguments characterized by mean-spirited, individual-focused attacks. We can have great passion, noteworthy emotion and intense frustration in either case.

If we truly want the best solution in a given situation and commitment for the future, we need healthy conflict – good arguments – about the issues at hand.

We don’t argue because we are conflict avoiders. We are conflict avoiders because we don’t have sufficient trust to be able to have the open and honest debate: conflict without blame and attack.

We spend too much time and energy avoiding conflict. Time and energy that could be productively invested in real problem solving. Ironically, the conflict route is more direct, more rigorous, and more productive that the schmoozing and tiptoeing around the issues. Further, it helps build commitment. If you want buy-in, you’ll got to allow weigh-in. When we avoid the necessary conflict inherent in relationships and disallow weigh-in we force people to use back channels as an outlet for their ideas and interests and a conduit for the change they want.  This may undermine the change we need.

Any meaningful prescription for this affliction involves trust building (hard work) and conflict resolution skills (hard work also). Conflicts exist. People need resolution. They also need the bump and shove of ideas and concepts and the wherewithal to handle it in order to get better at getting better.

We can argue about it if you like.

In Other Words…

“You cannot reason people out of a position that they did not reason themselves into.” ― Ben Goldacre, Bad Science

“I don’t have a ‘side’—I’m responsible for what I say and nothing else.” ― Glenn Greenwald

“Maturity is achieved when a person accepts life as full of tension.” ― Joshua Loth Liebman

“It’s hard to lead a cavalry charge if you think you look funny on a horse.” Adlai E. Stevenson II

“When you feel like throwing rocks, make sure they’re ones no one can throw back.” ― Rebecca McKinsey

“If you can’t win by reason, go for volume.” ― Bill Watterson, Calvin & Hobbes

In The Word…

He is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, – 1 Timothy 6:4

In Linked Words…