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Debate Isn't Healthy

I don’t believe in the idea of “healthy debate” within organizations.

The problem is that if you frame disagreements as “debates,” you frame them as a conflict and not as a problem-solving session.

When people sense they’re in a debate, they view it as having winners and losers, so they’ll be more focused on winning the debate instead of working collectively to solve a problem.

That’s why I think it’s better to frame discussions with the end goal in mind. I ask questions like:

  • “What is the purpose of this discussion? What’s our goal?”
  • “What do we need to figure out? What data do we need to validate our thoughts?”
  • “What is our action plan to achieve our goal?”
  • “What are the implications of this course of action?”

When you have everyone approaching discussions with the goal in mind and not as a debate, you have way fewer conflicts. You’ll still have disagreements (and you should encourage different perspectives) but people will talk knowing that the purpose is to find the best way forward, not to “win” the discussion.


Published Apr 1, 2024

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