Arguments are OK, but Technique is Important

Posted on November 11, 2010

In this blog and in our consulting and training services, we often promote approaches that stray from the norm. As a result, we do get involved in our share of healthy debates and an occasional argument now and then. These are fine; as an argument about something of substance is a reflection of passion for what we are trying to achieve. Taking that passion and directing it toward a solution is beneficial, both personally and in business.

When arguments take a different tack however, we need to “call each other” on that transgression. We recently had a person with whom we have a business relationship enter a meeting in a conference room unannounced, raise a substantial issue where we had a misperception (which was news to us), and leave. That is arguing without buy in…a hit and run…an ambush. And totally unacceptable, whether or not his point was valid.

So, we called him on it, and in similar situations you should do the same. We sent along an email followed by a phone call stating that we do not accept such behaviour from each other as peers in our consultancy, or the stakeholders with which we do business. If there is an issue, and it is creating a need for someone to “yell and leave” than it remains an unresolved item and needs to be addressed. Addressing it requires a conversation, a debate or an argument, take your pick. Let’s make sure however we know the issue at hand, are prepared to discuss it and are also prepared to RESOLVE it, as the resolution can have implications for the future.

No hit and runs! Are all of your debates and arguments bi-directional? Are you prepared to not just “vent frustration” but participate in the full argument with facts? Our techniques in this area have a substantial bearing on how we are perceived as leaders – how are you perceived in this area?

Intelligent Disobedience Leadership provides workshops, coaching and consulting with a focus on courageous leadership and constructive communications through intelligent disobedience. We can help you and your teams design a community of practice which leverages constructive “intelligent disobedience.” For further information, email us at