Sam Radford

March 18, 2022

Stop trying to win arguments

We all want to be right.

I’m still waiting to meet that person who just loves to be wrong!

And when we disagree with someone, it’s natural to want to win then over to our way of seeing things.

Here’s the thing though: People change their minds slowly.

Do you remember the last time you heard a counter-argument to a view you hold strongly and you instantaneously changed your mind?

Me neither.

It doesn’t happen.

That’s not to say that we won’t ever change our mind—it just never happens there and then.

Which is why we need to think of sowing and watering seeds rather than winning arguments.

We don’t need to see people make about turns immediately. Plant some seeds—share your perspective, explain patiently why you disagree, listen for why they hold a different view (they could be right!), be curious, generous, courteous, and humble. Then let these seeds grow naturally.

Who knows, maybe someone else will come along later and water those seeds further. And then someone else.

It might take months, even years, but people do change their minds. 

The benefit to this slower, natural approach is that it also makes it easier to maintain relationship with people we disagree with.

As a mentor once said to me, ‘It’s better to be in relationship than right.’

Keep healthy, open connections with people. Play the long game. Plant seeds where you disagree; water those seeds. But don’t sacrifice a relationship because you can’t overcome the need to be right and win an argument in the moment.

—Sam

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@samradford | samradford.com