“Argue like you’re right. Listen like you’re wrong.”
Made you stop, didn’t it?
YES. It’s powerful.
I heard this while I was listening to the “Originals” by Adam Grant (mentioned in my latest book club post) and I’ve been thinking of the way he phrased this ever since.
When you’re speaking to a child or trying to explain something you repeat yourself probably 12,804 times…at least.
If you keep doing the same thing, you get the same results.
If you keep saying the same thing, you keep repeating the same message.
If you keep talking then you don’t learn anything knew; you’re only repeating what you already know.
So how do you make sure a lesson sinks in? What’s more powerful:
“Don’t touch the stove.” OR “Don’t touch the stove because it will burn you and you’ll get hurt.”
I think Grant’s point in describing “Argue like you’re right. Listen like you’re wrong.” was to help clients understand the difference between what is ‘worth’ fighting for and when you’re talking, what to say.
Argue Like You’re Right
Maybe argue isn’t the best choice of words here. What if it was replaced with Stand Up, Defend, Speak or Reason?
I don’t want to assume that because I was a female or a novice employee or young were any of the reasons that I was brushed aside when it came time to share my opinion but they’ve played factors. I have shared ideas or played devil’s advocate with my concerns only to be forgotten and dismissed…until it was time to use an idea or make a profit then the credit was transferred in the blink of an eye.
I was raised in a household where the loudest voice or biggest action ended the fight so guess how quickly and often things escalated?
What have I learned from all of this?
First, I had to find a better way to communicate. I had to list out and be prepared with my thoughts. I had to check my reasoning and decide between ‘tattling or telling’ you decipher as a child. I had to stand firm and stop interruptions when they attempted to cut me short. Then I had to…
Listen Like You’re Wrong
Ego meet Ego Check. Tongue tied, lips shut, eyes and ears open wide. Be accepting and take notes if you can. Before reacting as quickly as possible, say you’re unsure. Listen with the confidence that you presented your thoughts as best as possible but be humble enough to listen for points of view that you may have missed.
When you stand up firmly, not aggressively, for what you’re trying to communicate, people are much more likely to listen and agree with you. (If not agree, at least understand where you’re coming from.)
There is always room to mutually value the opinions of yourself and those you’re working with. What you have to say, what you think and what you are doing are valuable and you deserve to be heard. Don’t be shot down or apologize every time someone disagrees or tries to silence you. Tell them to hold on a second and argue like you’re right….then listen like you’re wrong.
PS: Do you want to communicate your business or personal brand more effectively? Reach out.