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Best Ways to Disagree, Provide Alternative Perspective, Point Out Faults, Play Devil's Advocate

Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on April 16, 2021, 6:01 pm from Feedbacks & Clarification #226

I've noticed that a few of your messages, and possible your general way of talking and arguing, is about finding faults and exceptions.

Some recent examples:

  • Napoleon and Cleopatra were great (when OP, me, was making the point they were over-hyped)
  • Debating strategies
  • Musk is a great salesman (when one of the articles / posts cast doubt on that assertion)

All the points you raise might be valid points -or might not-, that's not the point here.

The point here is the effect that attitude has on the social and power dynamics and your ability to achieve goals and status with people and through people.

And the danger is that people can frame you or see you as uncollaborative, unfriendly, and generally "not an ally" -when dealing with individuals- and "not on board with the team" when within groups.

When dealing with a boss, he might feel -and might feel so for good reasons- that you are diminishing his authority, and he might want to get rid of you just to preserve his power.

That attitude is not necessarily bad or "wrong" in all cases.
For example, it's a great asset for critical reviews, for brainstorming, for finding out the truth.
The voice that goes against the choir is a precious asset in many cases. BUT it can still cost you dearly, even while you're adding value.

I know that well because I often have the same approach in my reviews, and I've done a few enemies along the way -plus many lukewarm folks in the self-development industry who preferred to have a review without "cons" and "criticism" sections-. But I was conscious about it, and this message is to make you conscious about it as well-.

There are ways of keeping that attitude and the value it adds while also reducing the costs to you -but that's another topic-.

I am quite interested in how to provide alternative perspectives in a power-protecting manner when you think this alternate perspective is valuable.

Brainstorming Ways to Disagree

  • Agree and re-direct
  • Agree and jump into your alternative persective
  • Say "I partially agree" - I think Lucio used this before
  • Say "I would like to play devil's advocate" (my ex-boss likes to use this phrase)
  • Say "I would like to provide an alternative perspective"

Or say that you would like to open up a discussion

I would like to open up this discussion further.
My personal experience tells me something different.
It would be interesting to understand both perspectives.

Here are my thoughts:
...

What do you think?

Statements to Avoid

  • Avoid "I'm making a correction here"
    • Sounds like nitpicking
    • Better to say "I have to disagree here"
    • You don't want people to think that you are finding any kind of fault to destroy their argument
  • Avoid "That is wrong."
    • Judgemental and sounds personal
    • Worse will be "You are wrong"
    • Same with "I have some criticism"

Why Disagreeing with a Collaborative Frame Is Important?

Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on April 17, 2021, 2:12 am from Feedbacks & Clarification #228
Quote from selffriend on April 16, 2021, 7:39 p
  1. What are ways of keeping that attitude and the value it adds while also reducing the costs? Some quick notes will help if you don't have the time.
  2. What will be the costs here, in this specific forum?

For number one, it's the "collaborative frames".

They're in PU, as well as several examples scattered around the forum.

Maybe I'll do one post for this specific instance.

This is to communicate to the other person:

  • You are looking for a collaborative discussion
  • You want to provide value through an alternate perspective instead of using your perspective to prove him/her wrong
  • You are assertive enough to provide your own point of view
  • You are happy if he disagrees back and even "prove" you wrong
Lucio Buffalmano and selffriend have reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmanoselffriend
Quote from Matthew Whitewood on April 17, 2021, 3:38 am
Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on April 16, 2021, 6:01 pm from Feedbacks & Clarification #226

I've noticed that a few of your messages, and possible your general way of talking and arguing, is about finding faults and exceptions.

Some recent examples:

  • Napoleon and Cleopatra were great (when OP, me, was making the point they were over-hyped)
  • Debating strategies
  • Musk is a great salesman (when one of the articles / posts cast doubt on that assertion)

All the points you raise might be valid points -or might not-, that's not the point here.

The point here is the effect that attitude has on the social and power dynamics and your ability to achieve goals and status with people and through people.

And the danger is that people can frame you or see you as uncollaborative, unfriendly, and generally "not an ally" -when dealing with individuals- and "not on board with the team" when within groups.

When dealing with a boss, he might feel -and might feel so for good reasons- that you are diminishing his authority, and he might want to get rid of you just to preserve his power.

That attitude is not necessarily bad or "wrong" in all cases.
For example, it's a great asset for critical reviews, for brainstorming, for finding out the truth.
The voice that goes against the choir is a precious asset in many cases. BUT it can still cost you dearly, even while you're adding value.

I know that well because I often have the same approach in my reviews, and I've done a few enemies along the way -plus many lukewarm folks in the self-development industry who preferred to have a review without "cons" and "criticism" sections-. But I was conscious about it, and this message is to make you conscious about it as well-.

There are ways of keeping that attitude and the value it adds while also reducing the costs to you -but that's another topic-.

I am quite interested in how to provide alternative perspectives in a power-protecting manner when you think this alternate perspective is valuable.

Brainstorming Ways to Disagree

  • Agree and re-direct
  • Agree and jump into your alternative persective
  • Say "I partially agree" - I think Lucio used this before
  • Say "I would like to play devil's advocate" (my ex-boss likes to use this phrase)
  • Say "I would like to provide an alternative perspective"

Or say that you would like to open up a discussion

I would like to open up this discussion further.
My personal experience tells me something different.
It would be interesting to understand both perspectives.

Here are my thoughts:
...

What do you think?

Statements to Avoid

  • Avoid "I'm making a correction here"
    • Sounds like nitpicking
    • Better to say "I have to disagree here"
    • You don't want people to think that you are finding any kind of fault to destroy their argument
  • Avoid "That is wrong."
    • Judgemental and sounds personal
    • Worse will be "You are wrong"
    • Same with "I have some criticism"

Why Disagreeing with a Collaborative Frame Is Important?

Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on April 17, 2021, 2:12 am from Feedbacks & Clarification #228
Quote from selffriend on April 16, 2021, 7:39 p
  1. What are ways of keeping that attitude and the value it adds while also reducing the costs? Some quick notes will help if you don't have the time.
  2. What will be the costs here, in this specific forum?

For number one, it's the "collaborative frames".

They're in PU, as well as several examples scattered around the forum.

Maybe I'll do one post for this specific instance.

This is to communicate to the other person:

  • You are looking for a collaborative discussion
  • You want to provide value through an alternate perspective instead of using your perspective to prove him/her wrong
  • You are assertive enough to provide your own point of view
  • You are happy if he disagrees back and even "prove" you wrong

Hi Matthew. I cannot express how much I appreciate you for opening this thread. Let me explain.

I have been working on a project plan, say plan B, for a while. If plan B is finally implemented, I will almost surely receive a material promotion.

However, a competing plan, let's say plan A, was made by my internal competitors. They have released the full version of plan A, and both plans share many common ideas.

I haven't released my plan because I think it needs to be polished. In fact, the plan A was rushed to finish and thus contain a lot of mistakes. Even though mistakes are there, our executives and directors still like the idea.

I think I must prove that my team's plan is better, otherwise my career is doomed. Now I am writing a report for the big bosses. After learning your thread, I understand that, to convince others that I am a team-player, I must use the frame of "providing an alternative perspective" rather than the frame of picking mistakes.

 

@lucio

One component of my daily job is to criticize project plans and proposals - questioning the authorities. So I apologize if you find my disagreement annoying. And again I am offering a compromise, that, if you don't welcome my disagreement, questions on authority, and ideology of individualism, I will not openly express them again in future; you also have the right to delete those posts (just give me a bit time to back them up). I respect your feelings, opinions, and knowledge.

Lucio Buffalmano and Matthew Whitewood have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoMatthew Whitewood

Great thread, Matthew.

A few more:

  • The specific examples I might not agree 100%, but for what matters most, the general point, I totally agree (then disagree with the smaller points)
  • Great point, adding a few more observations to refine the theory = the overall theory is good, but these smaller points are not

If you totally disagree:

  • In the spirits of open discussion to improve / advance / etc. = frame it as an open discussion rather than personal

Just some examples, there are a million ways of doing it effectively, which also vary on the situation.
The basic idea though is anything that avoids this bad frame: "I'm not an enemy, I'm not here to take value from you personally".

And ideally sets this frame: "I'm a friend, I'm here to add value (to the process, and to you as a person as well)".

Of course, there are times when you don't like someone, when you're OK and maybe even want to make an enemy. Then, in those cases, skip all of the above.
But those situations are rarer, and most people stumble not with making enemies, but with using collaborative frames well.

Matthew Whitewood, Riley Thomas and selffriend have reacted to this post.
Matthew WhitewoodRiley Thomasselffriend
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?