“Know when to hold ’em, Know when to fold ’em”

Many arguments are ultimately inevitable, however, that doesn’t mean that every fight is worth the trouble. Learning which arguments are worth the time is a great characteristic to posses. A recent article from Talent Management.com author Marshall Goldsmith points out that not only are arguments energy drainers, they can also put your organization’s reputation at risk.

Reputations are at risk for an array of factors out of anyone’s control – stock market crashes, the economy plummets, a top client pulls out, or the company suffers a bad quarter … these are just a few examples of things that are beyond immediate organizational control. But what are you going to DO about it afterwards? And what are things the company can do from within to minimize reputation damage? One of the first things that will help is to keep pointless arguments to the bare minimum.

Arguing can needlessly create enemies who could have been allies. I say needlessly because many of our arguments fall into classic patterns that, if looked at from a distance, would seem silly and beneath our dignity. We don’t have to do this. We can choose to engage or abstain as the situation warrants.

There are definite situations or topics that warrant an argument, like injustice in the workplace. If you choose to handle this argument, be sure you are actually arguing for the cause and not your own ego. Argument traps need to be avoided – mastering the art of avoiding such traps will let you argue for the causes that are actually worth the time and energy. Opinions are often argued over but it’s important to remember that everyone has their own opinion and like to think that their opinion is the correct view point. If an argument is strictly regarding differing vantage points, consider letting the fire extinguish itself by accepting the opposing perspective.

It can be difficult for smart, committed, and especially stubborn people to just let go if their opinion is not the accepted version of the argument. This subliminal silencing ‘trap’ really just says that the unaccepted opinion has been told ‘be quite already’ … this tactic ranges from the boisterous “SHUT UP!” to a more subtle “I appreciate your opinion”. Nonetheless, these are all tactics to silence an opposing party in an argument. It’s inevitable that we will each loose at least one argument in our lives, the key is to lose gracefully.

When we think we’re not being heard, we tend to shout even louder – which is about the time others cover their ears or run from the room. When we keep fighting after the bell has rung, we can start damaging out reputation.

Learning to let it go after defeat will keep your reputation in tact. And in the long run, this will win you more arguments than you’ll lose. If you’re constantly arguing, that’s how your peers and colleagues will begin to view you. In the words of Kenny Rogers, “Know when to hold ’em, Know when to fold ’em”. For more information, click here to read the full article.

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