This is the third in 5 blog posts I will be doing on Adam Grant’s fantastic book “Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World.”
“The greatest tragedy of mankind comes from the inability of people to have thoughtful disagreement to find out what’s true.” – Ray Dalio
I don’t know about you but when I grew up our family didn’t fight. It sounds fake but it’s true. How about yours? Did they fight? Yes of course they did. And so did mine. They just did it behind closed doors.
I was taught that it was rude to fight in public – any kind of fight. If my brother got the bigger half of the cookie we were told to stop fighting. When our parents divorced we were discouraged from yelling and talking about it in public.
Imagine how surprising it was for me to see this quote from Adam Grant:
“If we rarely see a spat, we learn to shy away from the threat of conflict. Witnessing arguments – and participating in them – helps us grow a thicker skin. We develop the will to fight uphill battles and the skill to win those battles, and the resilience to lose a battle today without losing our resolve tomorrow. For the Wright brothers, argument was the family trade and a fierce one was something to be savored. Conflict was something to embrace and resolve. “I like scrapping with Orv,” Wilbur said.” – Adam Grant
Adam Grant, this time writing in the Singapore’s StaitsTime, in an article called “Kids, please start arguing for creativity’s sake” adds,
“Families who know how to quarrel in a good-natured way nurture some of the most innovative thinkers, research shows. If kids never get exposed to disagreement, we’ll end up limiting their creativity.” – Adam Grant
Grant shows that conflict is required to tangle apart our own beliefs.
“If no one ever argues, you’re not likely to give up on old ways of doing things, let alone try new ones. Disagreement is the antidote to groupthink. We’re at our most imaginative when we’re out of sync. There’s no better time than childhood to learn how to dish it out – and to take it.” – Adam Grant
Rather than seeing red faces launching into debate as a sign to dive for cover,
“Children need to learn the value of thoughtful disagreement. Sadly, many parents teach kids that if they disagree with someone, it’s polite to hold their tongues. Rubbish. What if we taught kids that silence is bad manners. It disrespects the other person’s ability to have a civil argument – and it disrespects the value of your own viewpoint and your own voice. It’s a sign of respect to care enough about someone’s opinion that you’re willing to challenge it.” – Adam Grant
Now if you’re like me and were raised in a home that bottled up anger only to unleash it in explosive bursts when the doors were closed, you might need some tips on how to use anger and debate constructively. Luckily for us, Grant provides us with 4 rules to keep arguing civil and constructive:
We can start with four rules:
- Frame it as a debate, rather than a conflict.
- Argue as if you’re right but listen as if you’re wrong.
- Make the most respectful interpretation of the other person’s perspective.
- Acknowledge where you agree with your critics and what you’ve learned from them.
Did this post make you mad? Let me know by emailing me or leaving me a comment. But make sure it’s constructive. You could be on your way to embracing argument and finding the value in “thoughtful disagreement.”