Being Right vs Being Effective

With the polarized political environment we are in, there’s a lot of advice out there on how to have effective arguments. An effective argument is one in which both parties remain open and not feel shut down. When we talk to each other in a way that allows us to remain open, then there is a chance that we learn and move toward cooperation and a positive outcome. But if we talk in a way that shuts people down, when we are more focused on being right or placing blame, then we dig deeper into our polarization and we don’t get anywhere that’s worth getting to.

1. BE OPEN. Go into the conversation with an openness to learning. On the flip side, if you go in to the conversation feeling assured about your assumptions about the other person, then you’re not likely to make progress

2. SEE YOURSELF. Understand your own insecurities and triggers going into the conversation and tend to those feelings with care. On the flip side, when you focus on the faults of the other person, you are focused on something you can’t control. All you can control is what you bring to the table.

3. OUTCOMES over BLAME. Focus on positive outcomes. A positive outcome might not be a complete solution, but it should look like progress or a step in the right direction. On the flip side, when you focus on being right or placing blame, you shut the other person down which is a barrier to making progress.


Check out the book Difficult Conversations for very practical advice on how to be effective

You can read a summary here