When you find yourself in a disagreement with someone - whether you are discussing politics or football - you probably tend to view the experience as a waste of time. Humans are stubborn creatures because we need to validate our own egos. That means no one wants to "give in." We all want to "win" the argument.
However, as Julia Galef, President of the Center for Applied Rationality, says: if you are simply out to "win" an argument and validate your ego, you really aren't winning much of anything. You are actually missing out on an opportunity for learning and personal growth.
Here are six ways you can learn to disagree productively:
-Accept your need for ego validation.
That's a very natural, very universal human impulse, but you can redirect that impulse in a much more productive direction.
-Divorce your belief from yourself.
Our beliefs feel like they're part of us. So when someone attacks that belief or that argument we're making it feels like an attack on you personally. That's one of the main reasons why we react defensively or angrily or why we find it hard to be objective in arguments.
-Reframe the argument as a collaboration.
Instead of thinking about the argument as a battle where you're trying to win reframe it in your mind so that you think of it as a partnership, a collaboration in which the two of you together or the group of you together are trying to figure out the right answer.
-Take the long view.
Remind yourself that when you concede a point, what you're doing is making an investment in your ability to be taken seriously and listened to by people in the future.
-Redirect your competitive impulses.
You can remind yourself that arguments are not like duels. At the end of the duel if it turns out that your opponent has a bigger and better weapon than yours once you lose that duel you then get a copy of that bigger, better weapon, which you can then use to win duels with other people about that issue in the future.
-Separate the argument from the source.
You might find, as most of us do, that when you're arguing with someone you start to feel frustrated with them or combative with them or irritated by them and that can make it especially hard to rationally consider what they're saying.
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