On life…and learning

How I Learnt to Conduct Positive Arguments…

with 6 comments

imagesAs an organization and human resources professional, my job involves conducting a lot of conversations, discussion & arguments and managing conflicts therein. As any other well-meaning professional, I have made my fair share of mistakes during such conversations; introspection told me that many such discussions could have been conducted in a more fruitful manner. Having said that, I would like to believe that I am better off today by making such mistakes and learning from them.

After all these years of being a true argumentative Indian, often straight-worded and carrying ‘When right, say it hot’ mindset, I wanted 2013 to be a better year. So, I took as one of my guiding principles/quotes of 2013 as – “I will not attend every argument I am invited to” (Author Unknown). I sat down in early Jan, dug deep into my experience and wrote down all the errors I tend to make during a discussion or an argument. And from that exercise, I learnt these two invaluable lessons, which now help me conduct a positive argument.

Now, during every discussion-turn-argument, I continually remind myself:

  • “I need to share my thoughts, without building a perception that the other person’s thoughts are incorrect. I may have my well-intentioned and valid reasons to state my views firmly, AND that does not make the views of the other person any inferior.” I keep telling myself that I am not trying to win over a personal victory here, I am just bringing my views and thoughts to the table.

  • “I must end the conversation purely on the merits of the two sides of arguments AND do not bring THE person in between the debate.” I keep reminding myself that if I state all my views with necessary facts, share my thought process clearly, I need not push or act aggressive. Not raising voice, and improving the argument is what I do – with a belief that the argument on its own merits will end up winning, if it is worth it, i.e..

How it helped? Well, I do not bring along my ego as an additional participant to a discussion any more. I listen with an intent to listen and not with an immediate urge to respond right back; to share with you, that was tough and I am indeed doing better by learning this art. I try not to allow my smile and/or my positive exterior to fade, even amidst the most trying arguments. And best of all, I do not end up making the other person feel being gunned down by the volley of arguments.

And I must tell you, I have started enjoying arguments even more now, they are a lot more harmonious and outcome-oriented! I still make some mistakes; few arguments still could have ended better… and that is the key, I now quickly scan my own self post every such conversation and reprimand self for any uncalled-for step. Next discussion turns out even better!

This was my experience. Now it is your turn. How do you conduct arguments? Do you follow any rules to conduct positive arguments? Do share…

6 Responses

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  1. I believe that EGO is the most dangerous enemy especially for an HR professional. But it becomes difficult to manage EGO of other participants in the discussion, that might end up ruining the discussion.

    Sahil Chopra

    November 26, 2013 at 12:47 PM

    • Well said, Sahil. However, the positive change starts from self, that is what I believe in. So, if we conduct a conversation in a positive manner, some favourable change in others too will be seen.


      November 26, 2013 at 3:31 PM

  2. managing certain discussions ( arguments ) is tough at times but i think good listening skills for others on the table is quite important , before puttting own views across. Also by giving respect to others would lead them to respect and hear out our thoughts positively.
    Generally discussions turn into arguments not due to differences in opinion/ views but due to the common perception of ” I am right always” , which needs to be kept aside before getting into any discussion.


    November 28, 2013 at 11:18 PM

  3. Love reading your thoughts and articles. because they are very practical. Once again thanks for such nice topics of discussion. I don’t know but these words always confuse me Debate/Discussion/Argument/ .
    Some time I feel they all three are same but sometime I feel no they are different. hoping someone will explain it


    December 2, 2013 at 9:10 PM

    • Thank you, I am glad to note that my learning resonated with you.
      You are right; a good discussion, conducted using well-intentioned arguments, with a possibility and opportunity of involving a well-meaning, productive debate, if need be, is what we need for all growth.


      December 3, 2013 at 9:31 AM

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