This very intense, very intelligent guy startled me by saying something I never had heard before.
He interrupted a vigorous argument with me by saying. “You know, Jim, I see your point now. I agree with you. You’re right.”
I was beyond surprised. Why did he do that?
I’ve thought about that conversation often, and it has changed my basic thinking about why and how to disagree. I now see that the man understood argument in its finest sense, as an opportunity to jointly seek truth and value.
At first look, this idea may seem ridiculous. But if you put aside conventional thinking, it changes the entire perspective.
Some people set out to win all their arguments. Some never win any. Many, perhaps most, rarely argue at all.
Thoughtful people disagree with all of them. They know that all three types – those who dominate, those who lose the battles and those who avoid engagement entirely – are missing important opportunities. None of the three really know how to reap the benefits of constructive interaction amid differences. They misunderstand what argument can be and what it can do.