Sunday, May 19, 2013

How to disagree elegantly and learn something in the process ...

I love my Zite iPad App that pulls out amazing (and latest) news just about anything. By tuning this to topics like science, philosophy, mind-body, software, programming, critical thinking (topics of my interest) - I can get hours worth reading everyday from this app. Thank you Zite.

I tweeted about Daniel Dennet's thinking tools - an article on Guardian. Lots of good stuff - take a look at it and if possible buy the book and read.

One idea that most attracted me from this article is about "how to effectively criticize/argue with someone". Here is a quick paraphrase.

3 simple rules (These rules are attributed to social scientist Anatol Rapoport - as Daniel suggests in the article)

1.  Attempt to restate (re-express) opponents idea in your words (so clearly that opponent should say "I wish I could have expressed like you did - that is precisely the idea")
2. State the points of agreement about opponents idea (especially if they are not matters of general/public agreement)
3. State what you have learned (new) from the idea

Only after doing 1.2.3 - you can do any rebuttal or criticism.

Notice - what 1, 2, 3 will do to your opponent?
By #1 - you have managed to show that you have understood the idea (even better than the opponent herself)
By #2 - you have established an emotional connect with opponent by explicitly stating what portions of idea you agree with. This will open up opponent for considering your points. This is the point where she will start actively listening to you.
By #3 - This is big one. Through this you show your humility and desire to learn when critiquing an idea.

Through this series of actions - you essentially convert a potential adversarial idea/person into a positive and collaborative interaction.

I will be putting these rules into action for situations where I am disagreeing with anyone and offering opposition or criticism. Let me see how it goes.

Pretty sound advise Daniel. Thanks.



Mohan said...

Very much helpful during bug bash between Testers and Developers.

Fake Software tester said...

So what are your thoughts and experiences when you put this into practise?

Shrini Kulkarni said...

@Mohan - In general sense these rules are useful in disagreeing with anyone on any topic - even when you are arguing with say your near and dear ones.

Shrini Kulkarni said...

@Fake Software Tester (I am bit hesitant to address you like this) -

I am applying these rules every day - yet to get a write a full experience of how dd this approached worked for me.

In subtle way - now I am conscious of these rules when saying something that is an argument.

So --- Keep watching this space. I will write as and when I get a writable experience.