(Photo by Dick Unhe)
The next time you find yourself arguing with a prospective employee, manager, or client, stop. Even if you win the argument, it’s likely you’ve lost something else in the exchange.
It’s fine to disagree. It’s fine to argue the merits of something. But when the argument escalates to being between two people, something else entirely is going on.
1) Spend the time to deeply understand what your “opponent” is saying and needing. Make sure they understand that you know. Then, instead of making them wrong, find something that you both have in common. A common goal. A common win. Then, find a way to achieve it, even if it means that you don’t win, and they don’t exclusively win.
2) Identify what they need to feel like they “win”. Identify what you need. See how you can take care of both of you. This is the art of the skillful mediator (or martial artist). If the only choices appear to be “A” or “B”, there’s likely a “C” that requires a bit more savvy to detect. Find it. Make it clear that you’re trying to find a solution other than the black and white options you both are presenting.
3) Ensure that you keep the discussion about things, not personalities. It’s easier to keep an argument from escalating if you don’t feel that you’re being attacked. So, if an argument shifts to being about you and them, shift it back to the thing that you’re discussing. If ultimately the issue is about personalities, then stop arguing and start listening. People don’t argue as a first step in problem-solving. If they’ve escalated to an argument, it means that likely one of you isn’t listening. Make sure it isn’t you.
You may win a battle short-term, but you’ll be much better off working towards a shared detente, and perhaps even mutual success.