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Ideas. Insights. Inspiration.

Different Conversations


Many years ago, during a development meeting with my manager, she told me, "You approach everything as if you were a lawyer."


I was delighted, and replied, "Thank you!"


She chuckled softly and said, "It wasn't meant as a compliment."


She went on to explain she felt I treated most conversations as arguments to be won, relentlessly presenting my point of view and citing facts to support it until the other side conceded. I had thought that was always a good thing -- hence the "thank you" -- but she helped me see how this led some people to see me as argumentative at best, and difficult to work with at worst.


Over the years, I learned that how you "win" a conversation depends on why you're having the conversation in the first place.


When the goal is to brainstorm ideas, listening to others and building upon their suggestions is the best way you "win".


When an important decision needs to be made, "winning" means arriving at the best outcome, regardless of who proposes the solution.


And sometimes, when people just need to share their feelings, winning simply means making them feel like they've been heard.


I still like to win debates and arguments. Who doesn't, really?


But not every conversation is a debate or argument.