The more one tries to influence others, the more debates and arguments one is likely to have.
Argue ethically and you can expect to make good decisions with relationships intact, for the most part. Argue unethically, and you can expect to “win the battle and lose the war” – i.e. they give in, but undermine you in other ways as the relationship falters.
Consider the following principles to argue ethically:
• The fallibility principle: Before you start, assume that you might be wrong about some of the things you believe.
• The truth-seeking principle: Give the other person a voice, let them finish their sentences, don’t judge and make every attempt to understand them.
• The burden of proof principle: Don’t throw poorly thought-out ideas over the wall and expect others to have to do all the legwork to prove you wrong if they don’t like what they heard from you. Instead, do your homework to justify your idea – it is your job to sell, not theirs to buy.
• The principle of charity: If you reframe something the other party says, do it in a way that you genuinely feel they meant it. Never reframe what others say in a negative light to discredit their argument.
• The resolution principle: Accept the best argument given, even if it is not yours. The longer one argues a point the harder this becomes, but it is important to do it regardless.
For practice, you can try all of the above with a friend or significant other this evening!
Russel Horwitz, Principal