"Remember, a 'debate' is a disagreement that someone has to win. But here's the problem. Most disagreements don't need a winner. You only need a winner when an opinion is going to lead to a decision. But a lot of disagreements turn into needless debates.
Listen, 'disagreements' are just different opinions, and a disagreement is diversity in action so it's a good thing. An internal debate isn't a bad thing, though. Sometimes you need to compare and choose between competing ideas and opinions. But debates often become emotional. Debates take more skill than simple disagreements.
Three principles I want you to keep in mind:
- The first one is this: Debates get settled differently. There are three types of decision making: Autocratic, democratic, and consensus. When a debate is ended or judged by a single judge, that's autocratic and the opinions are voted on, that's democratic. Consensus requires everyone to agree on one opinion. If you're facilitating a debate, you want to be clear upfront how the debate is going to be settled, because that's going to impact how people interact.
- The second principle is this: In a debate, you get what you give. If you're emotional, they'll be emotional. If you attack their opinion, they'll fight back. If you listen, they'll listen. If you're open, they'll be open. Remember, if a debate is not going your way, be the version of yourself you want to see in others. Don't mimic them. Be open, interested, and positive, and you'll get what you give.
- The third principle is this: You can win the battle and lose the war. Remember, in an internal debate, it's not who's right, it's what's right, that matters, and different opinions can both be right. Remember, debates don't need to be won or lost. They can be conceded, too. You can get behind a decision even though your opinion didn't prevail.
One big takeaway: If 'a disagreement is diversity in action', then an internal debate is your culture in action. Companies love to talk about their diverse and collaborative culture, but those are just words. Culture is what actually happens during these internal debates. It's what goes on behind closed doors or on those Zoom calls and all the post debate reactions.
Remember, disagreements take skill, but internal debates take even more skill. Your debating style fuels your reputation. Good people to work with are going to get ahead, while hard people to work with, are going to get left behind."
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