Developer Tea

How to Argue Better

Episode Summary

In today's episode, we're going to talk about a couple of strategies to get your ego out of the way so you can empathize with another person's opinion and argue better.

Episode Notes

In today's episode, we're going to talk about a couple of strategies to get your ego out of the way so you can argue better.

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Episode Transcription

We all get an arguments from time to time. Sometimes, and perhaps most of the time, these arguments are over petty things. They don't end up mattering in the end. But sometimes we get an argument where we actually have a stance. We have a belief, some opinion, and we have a reason for it. And unfortunately, it's difficult to convince someone in an argument where both people feel pretty strongly about their own opinions. It's difficult to convince someone to join your side. And it's probably equally difficult for them to convince you to join their side. Now, in today's episode, we are going to discuss the concept of strong opinions weekly held, although that is something that I encourage you to learn about, go and Google after you listen this episode. But instead, I want to discuss a strategy for having better arguments. My name is Jonathan Cutrell and you're listening to Developer Tea and my goal on this show is to help driven developers connect to their career purpose and do better work. So you can have a positive influence on people around you. And in this particular case, doing better work is about harmony. We've been kind of focusing on this topic of harmony and focusing on kind of shifting the way that we think about attaching ourselves to our code and our ego-driven programming. This is something that can be really toxic. And the most toxic moment that you may have in your day-to-day work could be that argument. It's a very interesting thing that it may start out as an argument over the subject. But eventually, in the end, if things go poorly, these arguments can devolve into very personal arguments. Attacks on people's intelligence, for example. Now, hopefully you catch yourself before you go too far down the road of argumentation where things get personal. But I want to give you a strategy or perhaps a thinking method, a way of perceiving an argument that may help you not necessarily win the argument, but come out with a better solution. If your goal in any argument is simply to win, then, well, unfortunately, you're going to end up with sub-optimal solutions. Your opinions, as we've said many times on the show, your opinions and everyone else's for that matter are often wrong. And so having a positive debate, comparing opinions so that you can collectively choose the best. That's really the point of allowing arguments to happen in the first place, of allowing deliberation to happen in the first place. So here's the simple, kind of short-circuit concept that I want you to take away from today's episode. I want you to try to make the other person's argument for them before you get into any kind of argument. Where you start discussing the differences and opinions, first try to make the other persons argument for them. Now don't do this in a sarcastic way. Do this in a genuine way. Try to understand completely what the best and most convincing version of that person's stance could be. By doing this, you're creating not only a pathway for empathy, which is important, but you're also starting to understand a little bit more that perhaps you didn't really think through all the way before kind of simulating agreement. That's really the mental process that's happening. You're simulating the agreement. You're kind of asking yourself, well, if I had the same opinion, why would I have that opinion? This kind of putting yourself in someone else's shoes, this is really effective in mediation, but it's also a great collaboration tool. In mediation, when you put yourself in someone else's shoes, you may do something like, imagine that someone expressing anger is actually sad. Imagine someone who is avoiding you is actually anxious. These are real emotions that other people have, and very seldomly do we see people in light of their struggles. Instead, we try to cast people into unreasonable levels of expectation. So instead of approaching an argument as if the other person should have a rock solid response to every question that you ask, for example, try to see things from their perspective, and not just artificially or at the surface level, but practice having their perspective, practice fighting for the same opinion that they are fighting for. What this ultimately will lead to is a much better mediation between opinions. You may find yourself actually changing your own opinion. This is perhaps one of the most important aspects, maybe measurements of your growth as an individual, as a programmer, as a person in your professional career. If you are not changing your opinions very often, if you are essentially stuck in your own way of thinking for extended periods of time, if you don't remember the last time that you changed your mind, then it's likely that you can benefit from considering other people's opinions much more than you do today. I encourage you. The next time you get into some kind of argument, and the best type of argument to start with is one that's a little bit less consequential. Maybe it's something about syntax. If you can start by trying to figure out how you can make the other person's argument better, then perhaps you can understand the other side. You can understand why your argument doesn't make as much sense to them as their own. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode of Developer Tea. We don't have a sponsor for today's episode, but in lieu of a sponsor, I encourage you to take just a moment to go and subscribe and whatever podcasting app you use, and then leave us a review on iTunes. This is the best way to help other developers like you find the show, but it also gives us a chance to read and understand your feedback about the show so we can continue to make things better for you. Thank you so much for listening, and until next time, enjoy your tea.