Why it isn’t worth arguing at work


One thing I have learnt in my career is that arguing with someone, especially when you know all too well that your right, just does not work. I’m not referring only to your colleagues, but also to senior level management, key stakeholders and your clients. There may be a number of instances when your at work, and you completely disagree with what someone says or proposes to do and vice versa.

Unfortunately in our society, people have adopted this attitude that the world revolves around themselves and that admitting to being in the wrong displays a sense of weakness. Therefore naturally what do we do? Well we argue back ofcourse! This creates tension and distrust in the office making it ever more difficult to work further with someone you have had a disagreement with and both parties remain stubborn.

Is it really worth arguing at work with someone? Really? Is it? Well, the short terms gains may be you prove the other person wrong and you walk away with your head held high. But there are no long term gains. Do you think that person who you humiliated and proved wrong by arguing with them, is going to back you up when the boss asks for referrals for a promotion? Well, unlikely.

Dale Carnegie once said in his book How to Win Friends and Influence People:

“A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still”

Even if you prove to someone that they are wrong, but more importantly you do it against their will by arguing, they will still walk away thinking that they were still in the right. It really isn’t worth arguing,. You end up making the other person even more convinced than ever, that they were right.

So, what should you do instead of arguing? Well firstly hear the other person out. Commend them on their idea/opinion/plan whatever it may be. That is, acknowledge them. Then say that adding on from what they say, you feel/believe (not your opinion is) that…….then say but I could be wrong, I usually am. And there you have it, humility shown at its finest. The other person will see the humility shown and you have already boosted their ego by actually acknowledging them, therefore they will be more likely to hear your opinion and may even be persuaded.

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