Today, I had a quite strange and unpleasant discussion. It was about business strategy and sales, and the both of us differed quite clearly in our views on how to ‘do it right’. I wasn’t in the best mood, and from my perspective, the other guy behaved in an egoistic, slightly arrogant and selfish manner. He used typical killer terms, such as “totally clear” or “as I’ve always been saying” to underline his apparently superior line of argumentation.
I’m used to these rhetoric techniques which are popular tools used in many corporate meetings. And normally, I don’t bother at all since I don’t use these techniques myself and I don’t react on them, neither. But today, I couldn’t resist and after a while I found myself in a quite strenuous debate with “rights” and “wrongs” – with both participants looking for winning arguments.
During those 90 minutes, I asked myself a few times to calm down, forget about what the other one just said, start anew, and so on. But it didn’t work. At the end we came to some sort of conclusion which did not satisfy one of us. I left with a bad – or at least very mixed feeling. During the first 2 hours or so after the event, I realized that I was trying to explain myself by (mentally) arguing against his statements.
Luckily, after some coffee and some distraction, I suddenly asked myself: what, if he were right? What, if I put my arguments aside for a moment, and took over his perspective – no matter if his argumentation was flawed or not?
This exercise – to really take on your opponent’s perspective and act respectively – is one of the more demanding ones. To change my spots has been quite difficult, today. But, it worked. I successfully imagined some scenarios based on his arguments. The result: as always, I learned a lot by doing this exercise. First: the anger I felt after having left was anger about myself – not being able to cope with the situation in a good way. And – without going into detail, I now know that I really could – and should – optimize my own views and behavior regarding business strategy and sales. I still regard some of his views as flawed but these are details: my key takeaway from today’s discussion is that I learn most from difficult, unpleasant communications. In a wider sense, that reflects that we all can learn something from anybody.
If you read this, thank you for today’s insight, dear…..!