Avoid Aimless Arguments

A recent article from Talent Management.com columnist Marshall Goldsmith notes that there are some things that really are worth arguing about. The issue isn’t about arguing, it’s about figuring out what is worth the fight and what’s not. Goldsmith says it’s part of being an American, about the ladder we each had to climb to be where we are today. It’s about what we did in the past that brought us to where we are today.

Having a tough time of it at home may not be the best thing, but it could actually make things harder at work. It’s not a competition to see who’s had it hardest throughout their lives, and it’s certainly nothing to argue about with co-workers, employees or clients. The past is the past, and whether you grew up with an outhouse or dirt floors is irrelevant to the business atmosphere in which you are currently interacting. Competing about memories will yield neither side a real winner (a winner of what?) – it is quite simply, a pointless argument.

We never really know what other people’s motives are. We can speculate – with generosity, if we attribute good to their motives; or with paranoia, if we suspect hostile intent – but no matter how strenuously we probe, we may never get a frank answer.

The reason for fighting is often impossible to get to the bottom of, despite relentless efforts. When your motives are in question, how do you respond? Chances are, you react by getting angry and wanting to argue. They key is to remember in this moment that your reaction is going to set the mood for the whole interaction. Also remember that you are reacting based on what you assume the other person meant when they questioned you. Therefore, preemptive anger will not let you win an argument, you must know for fact that the other person had intentional ill will toward you for the argument to be any degree of relevant.

Since you can never “prove” the other person had ill intent, you can never really “win” this pointless argument. If the other person did truly have ill intent, he or she would never admit it in public. If the other person did not have bad intent, he or she will be hurt by your unfair comments. What have you won in either case? Nothing. What have you lost? Mojo, that spirit that starts inside and radiates outside.

Keep in mind that as a talent manager, your words and actions speak volumes, and by these things, you shall be judged. Having an even temper in regards to being questioned by your employees can only make you a stronger leader. Everyone within an organization has the right to be treated with respect, judged by their performance, and paid equally. These are things worth arguing about. If you or one of your employees is being treated unfairly, the ground for an argument has been laid. To read more about what’s worth arguing over and what isn’t, click here to access the full article.

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