How to disagree without being disagreeable

I was thinking about some of the life-learning and wisdom of Nathaniel Branden, half-convinced in my mind that I was remembering a quote accurately, that Nathaniel Branden had written "disagree" and "disagreeable" much like I thought in the title of this entry.

I did find a phrase, something like I remembered and put it in fuller context at bottrom. But first some thoughts from the departed.

The natural inclination of a child is to take pleasure in the use of the mind no less than of the body. The child's primary business is learning. It is also the primary entertainment. To retain that orientation into adulthood, so that consciousness is not a burden but a joy, is the mark of the successfully developed human being.
Nathaniel Branden

 


We do not hear the term "compassionate" applied to business executives or entrepreneurs, certainly not when they are engaged in their normal work. Yet in terms of results in the measurable form of jobs created, lives enriched, communities built, living standards raised, and poverty healed, a handful of capitalists has done infinitely more for mankind than all the self-serving politicians, academics, social workers, and religionists who march under the banner of "compassion".
Nathaniel Branden

 

 “When I disagree with a rational man, I let reality be our final arbiter; if I am right, he will learn; if I am wrong, I will; one of us will win, but both will profit.”
Ayn Rand

 

Quote

 

How to Be a Much More Effective Manager

The best companies, the best departments, and the best staffs are those where everyone feels comfortable and confident in their decisions. They are free from fear of retribution or humiliation.

  • Set a standard of personal integrity. Keep your promises, and honor your commitments. Deal with everyone fairly, and support this behavior in others. Give your people the pride of working for a moral company.
  • Find out the central interests of your people. Give people opportunities to do what they enjoy most and do best. Build on people’s strengths.
  • Give assignments that stimulate personal and professional growth. Stretch your people by assigning tasks and projects slightly beyond their known capabilities.
  • Give your people opportunities to practice self-responsibility. Give them space to take the initiative, volunteer ideas, attempt new tasks, expand their range and make mistakes.
  • Challenge the seniority tradition. Promote on the basis of merit. The recognition of ability is one of the great inspirers of self-respect and enthusiasm for the organization.
  • Show that it is safe to make a mistake. Let people feel free to say “I don’t know, but I will find out.” To evoke fear of error or ignorance is to invite deception, inhibition and an end to creativity.

DEALING WITH CONFLICT

  • Show that it is safe to disagree with you. Convey respect for differences of opinion. Do not punish dissent.
  • Important: Disagreement does not have to be disagreeable.
  • Make eye contact and listen actively. Offer appropriate feedback, and give the speaker the experience of being heard.
  • Never permit conflicts of personalities. Keep encounters about work task-centered, not ego-centered. The focus needs to be on reality – “What is the situation? What does the work require? What needs to be done?”
  • Provide reasons for rules and guidelines when they are not self-evident. Explain why you cannot accommodate certain requests. Don’t merely hand down orders.

[...]

Thinking of someone with whom I have useful disagreements.  

Watauga Lake, Tennessee. 

Watauga-Lake-700x466.jpg



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Advice for beginners ...

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DEALING WITH CONFLICT

  • Show that it is safe to disagree with you. Convey respect for differences of opinion. Do not punish dissent.
  • Important: Disagreement does not have to be disagreeable.
  • Make eye contact and listen actively. Offer appropriate feedback, and give the speaker the experience of being heard.
  • Never permit conflicts of personalities. Keep encounters about work task-centered, not ego-centered. The focus needs to be on reality – “What is the situation? What does the work require? What needs to be done?”
  • Provide reasons for rules and guidelines when they are not self-evident. Explain why you cannot accommodate certain requests. Don’t merely hand down orders.

I often feel like a beginner ...

Edited by william.scherk

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Did you know Wikipedia has a humour section?  Well, it doesn't, but here and there are harbours for some funny material. One, for example, is called "The Truth," and it is strangely hilarious.  The sections below are from the Wikipedia 'meta-wiki' page "How to Win an Argument."  It is very meta, and mostly pertinent to Wikipedia articles, talk pages, and the culture therein ... but it also can be consulted for work in other venues ...

Quote
  • Be sure to get the last word. People have short memories. If you do not get the last word, no one will remember what you have said. If this requires repeating your argument 50 times, so be it. This may appear repetitive, however, which will cause people to begin ignoring your messages; you may wish to alter a few words each time rather than repeating it verbatim. This will make it appear as if it were an entirely new message.
  • Reply to every comment. Not addressing the concerns raised by others will make it appear as if you are evading them. Thus it is important to address every comment made in a thread. If you are discussing on the mailing list, you must reply to every message. If you consolidate your responses, some people may miss that you have responded to a point addressed in another message. Therefore, you should reply to every message, even if your reply is only one sentence long and contains the same argument you have already made.
    • Reply to only one element of each comment. If you argue strongly enough about a single sentence in another editor's comment, it makes it look like that sentence was the only point they were trying to make, and since your reply proves that sentence wrong, everyone will know your position supersedes the entire comment. Just make sure you choose a sentence that's close to the end of their comment, since people only scroll down, never up, when reading talk pages.

[...]

  • Demand citations (including page numbers) for all claims. And if anyone ever provides one, you may dismiss it point-blank. If the cited work was a classic in its field, it must be out-dated and therefore inaccurate. If you've never heard of it, it's just an anecdotal coffee-table book with no status what-so-ever. And you can always deny the author's expertise — no amount of acknowledgement by his peers has to suffice to you. You know better. Or, if the work was put together by a panel, the cited part was probably added by a layman proof-reader without subsequent review. If someone floods the argument with multiple sources, dismiss one of them as derisively as you can and you can ignore the rest. If someone ever demands you to cite your claims, just say that it is all common knowledge. If they keep insisting on a source, say: "do a Google search, it's all there".
  • Never leave the argument. If the argument is going nowhere in an endless cycle, tell the opposition that the project is hopelessly broken and announce that you're going to leave Wikipedia forever. Tell them that Wikipedia isn't what it used to be, and they'll be sorry when they come to realize what you now know. Post a bitter farewell message on your user page. Then, keep on arguing. When others start asking "weren't you leaving?", tell them that you're not going to reason with idiots and pretend to ignore them, while continuing to make your grievances known wherever possible.
  • Explain why you are an expert on the topic. It is possible to lend weight to your own pronouncements by declaring yourself to be an expert on a topic. No proof, resume or documentation need be provided since those who doubt you can be accused of having bad faith.

Rudy Giuliani's TV appearance today offers a means of testing the ironic verities of the meta essay.  In that he launched a thousand bad 'memes' with his "Truth isn't Truth" ...

I think this is what he meant:

Trump-Mueller-Under-Oath.jpg

 

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1 hour ago, william.scherk said:

Did you know Wikipedia has a humour section?  Well, it doesn't, but here and there are harbours for some funny material. One, for example, is called "The Truth," and it is strangely hilarious.  The sections below are from the Wikipedia 'meta-wiki' page "How to Win an Argument."  It is very meta, and mostly pertinent to Wikipedia articles, talk pages, and the culture therein ... but it also can be consulted for work in other venues ...

Additional tips:

Assume the role of teacher/lector/scold/mentor, dole out guidance and advice, but don't follow it yourself. You're the sage, they're the students at your feet. The rules of civil behavior are for Them, not for superior you.

Avoid substance. Stick with superficial gotcha points. When invited to swim in deeper waters, ignore the invitations. When challenged to swim deeper, extra-double-ignore the chalkengrs. Splash even more energetically in the safety of the shallows.

Document dump. Don't summarize. Don't explain. Just expect people to read thousands of words, and then to come to the same conclusion that you did, but which you won't share in a brief summary. Expect them to find and identify your argument for you, and to agree with it, of course!

Behave as if mortally wounded when you receive in turn what you've given. How dare anyone speak to you in the way that you speak to them!

J

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The "Manager" quote in the box at the top reminds me of Deming, the statistician who preached quality control after WWII to deaf ears in the US, so he went to Japan and made that country a world leader in quality automobiles and electronics.  While this was based in part on statistics, it also included much about management practices.  I think the common thread is the question of whether the management task is to make things work or to assign blame when they don't.  This and three of Jonathan's points make me think of the management of the apartment building where I have been living for two years.  As one example, in the fall we get a condescending letter of advance blame reminding us not to open our windows in the winter and thereby let the apartment get so cold the radiators freeze.  The first question is, "Who would be dumb enough to do that in New Hampshire?"  Unmentioned is the fact that the second floor here is so hot that I never have to turn the heat on all year, and, indeed, do have to open windows in the dead of winter.  To solve the problem one would need to figure out what is wrong with the heating or ventilation system,  but it's much easier to blame the victim. 

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The Giuliani quote is best understood by acknowledging he probably meant a 'he-said/he-said" situation, where memory, bias, availability heuristics and suggestibility reign.  In any case, he explained his remarks subsequently:

Giuliani also found the time to pontificate upon James Comey, who -- showboat that he is, right? -- pontificated upon Giuliani's easily-misunderstood "Truth isn't truth" garble.

Which brought a slightly snarked-out response ...

 

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29 minutes ago, william.scherk said:

The Giuliani quote is best understood by acknowledging he probably meant a 'he-said/he-said" situation...

 

"Probably"? Heh.

Listen to the interview.

Extra-pretend fake news.

J

 

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See also:  How to Disagree Without Being Disagreeable: 7 Tips for Having More Productive Discussions

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5) Don't get personal. 

When a disagreement gets heated, it's easy for people to call upon "low blows." These personal attacks are often used as an intimidation tactic or defense mechanism, but that doesn't make them appropriate in business situations -- or any situation for that matter. 

When disagreeing with someone, your claims should be based on the outcome over that you are debating, not on what the other person has done (or not done) in the past. 

“Try to make sure the conversation stays focused on facts, not personalities,” management professor Nate Bennett told QSR. "And if the other person gets personal, remember that you are not your job."

"It's a lot easier to embrace criticism of your work when you don't let your work define who you are," insists Jeff Atwood, co-founder of Stack Exchange and Discourse. "Even if someone says something out of line, avoid the itch to retaliate by keeping this notion in mind. Instead, refocus the discussion back to the subject matter at hand."

 

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On 8/19/2018 at 11:36 AM, Jonathan said:

Additional tips:

Assume the role of teacher/lector/scold/mentor, dole out guidance and advice, but don't follow it yourself. You're the sage, they're the students at your feet. The rules of civil behavior are for Them, not for superior you.

Avoid substance. Stick with superficial gotcha points. When invited to swim in deeper waters, ignore the invitations. When challenged to swim deeper, extra-double-ignore the chalkengrs. Splash even more energetically in the safety of the shallows.

Document dump. Don't summarize. Don't explain. Just expect people to read thousands of words, and then to come to the same conclusion that you did, but which you won't share in a brief summary. Expect them to find and identify your argument for you, and to agree with it, of course!

Behave as if mortally wounded when you receive in turn what you've given. How dare anyone speak to you in the way that you speak to them!

J

Jonathan sums it all up better than anyone could.

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1 hour ago, Jon Letendre said:
On 8/19/2018 at 10:36 AM, Jonathan said:

Behave as if mortally wounded when you receive in turn what you've given. How dare anyone speak to you in the way that you speak to them!

Jonathan sums it all up better than anyone could.

Sure.  Agreed for the sake of discussion.  

1 hour ago, william.scherk said:

"Even if someone says something out of line, avoid the itch to retaliate by keeping this notion in mind. Instead, refocus the discussion back to the subject matter at hand."

What is the best, most instructive disagreement you were involved in on OL over the years?  Or, in other words, all things being equal, what kinds of disagreement were fruitful for you here at this forum?

1 hour ago, Jon Letendre said:

Don’t get into discussions with deranged leftists who are only pretending to be interested in sincere discussion.

I agree, to a point.  Every political point  on the horseshoe can display an edge condition, where reason is not as important as it is to the Objectivist-influenced, those who follow a variant of Rand's epistemology. For every "deranged leftist" as tagged, there will be a cohort of less-mad or less-dogmatic 'ordinary leftists,' in my opinion. Even in an 'expanded cohort' with which one can find a large field of agreement, there will be folks who dissent. The dissent can be  reason-based, emotion-based, or a mixture.

With or without name-calling, what is there in the following video that you disagree with, and on which grounds?

 

Edited by william.scherk

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Guess who wrote this ... 

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How to compose a successful critical commentary:

  1. You should attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.
  2. You should list any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).
  3. You should mention anything you have learned from your target.
  4. Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.

 

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19 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:
31 minutes ago, william.scherk said:

Guess who wrote this ... 

Quote

How to compose a successful critical commentary:

  1. You should attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.
  2. You should list any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).
  3. You should mention anything you have learned from your target.
  4. Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.

Can one choose to so compose using their free will? 

No comprendo.

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43 minutes ago, william.scherk said:

No comprendo.

William,

Come on.

You quote Dennett, make your little guessing game, and then get confused about a reference to free will?

For Dennett, it's all semantics, not in theory, but in the way he explains it.

And that is critical commentary according to his own standard?

It's hard, for me at least, to re-express his "target position" because I can't detect one. Something something determinism... something something free will exists... something something it doesn't but it does... something something the only kind worth having... something something biology... and so on.

(He has a nice smile. :) )

Michael

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