How to Disagree

As I pointed out in my earlier post, often people get stuck on arguing whose solution is better. It does not really go anywhere because

  • they are really solving two different problems, and
  • they are not even listening to each other – just listing the benefits of their own clever solution

 The way around this standoff is to

  1. Tell the other person the benefits of their solution. This will shut them up because they see that you finally understood what they have been trying to tell you.
  2. Then tell them the problem with their solution.

Notice that nowhere does it say to describe how your solution is way better. No need to even mention your solution. Just list the problems with the other solution. Either the other person will deny that those are indeed problems, in which case you can address the real issue – that you disagree on what the problem is – or they will agree that their solution is imperfect which should lead naturally to a discussion whether there is a perfect or more better solution.

By just insisting that your solution is better (and thus you are smarter) will get you nowhere. But by continuing to list problems, the other person is challenged to solve them and will then discover your solution (or perhaps a better one) themselves.

And then you agree 🙂


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