‘Never wrestle with a pig – the pig enjoys the wrestling and you get dirty.’ So the saying goes…
When people attack our good work, why do we spend time fighting back when we’ve got so many other priorities? Why do we continue to irritate (sometimes please) them by arguing?
Here’s five ways to avoid the wrestling and help them make progress:
#1 When your ideas are attacked don’t address their concerns directly unless you want to spend a lot of your scarce time proving who’s right. Why?
It’s rarely possible to prove who’s right – proof-points are easily dismissed, or ignored
They are not interested in your position – they can’t listen
The more you debate, the further away you get from solutions
#2 Stop talking about the problem as though it can be solved with rigorous argument. Think of the problem as being between you. Visualize the problem as an element in the space between each of you so that it can be clarified, but not analyzed. And, take what they say seriously, not literally!
#3 Find out what you have in common. A little or a lot, there will be something! Why not find out what they want because they might have something worth hearing? Show them you are listening, but will not to be bullied by their politics-ideology-anger, etc.
#4 Don’t expect big breakthroughs. Look for small progress and action steps. Intransigent positions take time to shift. The other party will change at a slower pace than suits you. Small progress usually speeds up change later.
#5 To change the beliefs and behaviours of others, first change ours. Rigidly clinging to our position will irritate our opponent. Do something different. Surprise them.
Here’s an approach to making progress towards solutions right away:
What do I need to do to hear about that they really want?
Beyond the disagreement, what solutions or outcomes does the other side want?
What do I want, i.e., my desired outcomes?
Look for those small agreements, small changes, small progress and change may happen sooner than you think.