Debate or Hate?

Debate is a skill that good leaders possess. Debate helps us create better solutions, better relationships, stronger teams, and grow in seeing things from different perspectives.

Each of us can learn to debate effectively – and sometimes we learn how to do something well by understanding the mishaps we need to avoid. Below are five debate mishaps that will harm your ability to effectively influence others through debate.

Mishap #1: Making it personal.

The minute you go after “the person” rather than “the topic” is the minute you have lost your ability to effectively debate. You’ve also likely lost the respect of others in the conversation. How do we make it personal? By judging someone’s character, making sarcastic digs about them as person, downgrading their intelligence based on their opinions, and making passive aggressive comments in a effort to cause hurt.

When you make it personal, you might as well say, “I’m angry because I don’t have the upper hand in this debate. Since I can’t “win,” I’m going to lash out and hurt you.”

Mishap #2: Being emotional.

Debating should be a calm process. You can be passionate, but you must be able to explain your position in a way that makes it easy for the other person to listen to you. Talking loudly, talking over the other person, spitting when you talk, leaving the room angry, interrupting, and crossing your arms all divert the focus from the topic to your anger and frustration.

Mishap #3: Not learning.

Debating isn’t just about getting your opinion out there and believing you are right regardless of the other person’s opinion. That’s arrogance. If we are willing to debate, we should be willing to see the other person’s side of the topic. Why do they think or feel this way?

We know others aren’t interested in truly learning when they interrupt, refuse to listen, only focus on their own responses, and don’t allow the other person to speak.

Mishap #4: Tear down the “enemy.”

STOP IT! The other person is not your enemy. If you don’t like what they stand for, then lift up the advantages of what you stand for. If your plan is better, then discuss the positive attributes of your plan, not the alleged stupidity of the other person’s plan. Poor debaters spend all their energy tearing down or insulting the other person’s view instead of communicating the strengths of theirs. Focusing on your point-of-view’s merits in the face of criticism takes courage. Hurling insults via social media is weak. Build your case instead of downgrading theirs.

Mishap #5: Hate instead of Debate.

I was inspired to write this post due to the social and political hatred we are witnessing each day. It seems that the fine art of healthy debate is gone and instead we just throw shade (LOL, I learned that phrase from my girls). Let us realize that we each have our own belief system. So, let’s allow our beliefs to influence rather than insult.

Debate instead of hate, and you may find yourself growing into a person of influence.

Silos. Turf wars. Unhealthy competition. They’re present at some level in nearly every organization, regardless of their size. And they drive us crazy! They slow progress, prevent teamwork, and build distrust between leaders and teams, yet most of us have come to accept dealing with these roadblocks and frustrations as an unpleasant but necessary part of the job.

In reality, just because silos and turf wars exist doesn’t mean we can’t work to break down those barriers and begin working with, rather than against, other departments throughout our organizations. Here are four actions I’ve found that can help foster collaboration between teams and departments. (more…)

“It isn’t about who is ‘for’ or ‘against’ you, it’s about who you are for.” – Andy Stanley

This is a great quote! Why? Because it alludes to the “politics trap” that many leaders get caught up in as their influence increases. When we succumb to politics, we worry more about who’s on our side, who’s on the other side, how we can get our idea to win, how we need to position ourselves, and so on. Focusing on who’s for or against us takes our attention away from the important things, like how we can do a better job leading our people. In addition to that, it’s pretty self-centered to waste time wondering about who’s for us!

Take a moment to reflect on how you view the people around you. Do you spend more time thinking about who’s for you or against you, or do you focus your energy on serving and growing your people? People will be for you if you are first for them.

I married my basketball coach’s son. Yes, while this makes for a fun, juicy love story it isn’t my leadership message for today. I do, however, want you to see how close I am to the coaching world. I live in a coaching family, I was a coach, and I was a player who was coached from elementary school through my college years. As a parent, I have enjoyed being a spectator for my children’s sports, and I enjoy observing the relationship between a player and their coach.

I have always been amazed by the balancing act that is associated with the career of coaching other people’s kids. Right or wrong, there are 3 P’s that influence a coach’s world:

Players, Politics and Parents.

I think we’d all agree that the players should be the No.1 focus for the coach. Adding pressure and competing with this focus are the politics of who makes the team and who gets cut; who starts and who sits the bench; the win loss record; grades, practice time, and commitment levels, and so on. Then, yes, I’ve saved the best for last: the parents. Well, I am one, so I figure it’s politically safe for me to open this can! (more…)