Monday, November 20, 2006

The beautiful side of arguing

There are many reasons why I prefer not to argue with people. The two biggest reasons for me are that I don't want to waste my time, and I prefer not to rock the boat by creating personal unpleasantness. After thinking about it, though, I've decided that it's good to argue.

As someone who has worked well on my own for a long time, I'm finding that working closely with a team and putting myself in a leadership role requires that I look beyond my personal productivity and look at how to build up the team. By avoiding arguments, I save myself time from explaining myself, but alienate the rest of the team by not involving them in my thought process. In economic terms, they are forced to operate on imperfect information--and the fault of this lies squarely with me because I have an aversion to heated arguments. Because I don't take the time to argue, I also force myself to operate on imperfect information. Yes, the argument can be unpleasant, but when people listen, it all boils down to an exchange of information, and when it is resolved, the team comes away with a more unified sense of direction. Arguing not only serves to inform, but puts personal biases and misconceptions through a trial by fire. If a point cannot be backed up with good reasons, it's not a very good point.

Even keeping this in mind, however, there's the personal unpleasantness associated with heated debate. But really, there's no need to take disagreement personally. If you argue with yourself, with the entity inside your own head, how much more should you argue with those who are outside so you can come to a consensus? Of course people are going to differ in how they think. They'll differ, hash out the reasons, and come to a conclusion. The many sides of my mind will always be fighting with each other, and it's perfectly fine. It's healthy! It's the same with those around you. So speak up, get ready for a fight, and enjoy it.


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