Ten Ways to Win an Argument
Jun 18, 2012
Farms are like any other business in that you have to make decisions from time to time that not everyone will agree with. You may even find yourself engaged in an argument from time to time. Chances are you don’t read TechRepublic, so I’m passing along some great advice they recently gave on having productive disagreements.
- Make sure there really IS a disagreement. Listen closely to what the other person is saying – you might be standing on common ground and not even realize it.
- Separate yourself from your position. Disagreements will become emotional and escalate quickly if you take it personally. Try to look at your position not literally as "your position," but as "a position."
- Maintain professionalism. Treat people with respect, and you will be treated with respect (usually). Golden Rule 101.
- Listen. To have an effective argument, you must make your point, but you must also allow the other person to make his or her point, too. Hear what they have to say.
- Recognize and avoid "straw man" arguments. You say, "If you put your CRP acres back into production, you don’t care about the environment." Congratulations, you just made a straw man argument. There are many ways farmers can be good stewards of the land, and it’s certainly easy to argue against a position that no one has.
- Agree to disagree. If an argument hits the proverbial brick wall, it makes little sense to continue to bash your head against it. Let it go, at least for the time being.
- Watch what you say. You can’t "un-say" words that you’ve spoken. My mom and Thumper’s mom (from Bambi) share the same advice: "If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all."
- Use a lower voice. This not only reduces tension, it also helps the other person listen to you.
- Try to see the other person’s point of view. Paraphrasing and summarizing the other person’s point of view before launching into your counterargument is a good way to do this.
- When the disagreement is resolved, put it behind you. Like Paul McCartney says, "Let it be." Let bygones be bygones. It’s good for conflict resolution, not to mention your blood pressure.
There you have it. Now go forth and argue!