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Topics: Agile, Communications Management, Stakeholder Management
What is your view on Constructive Arguments ?
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People often claim that arguments and disagreements lead to negative effects on a personal and team level. However, in many cases, constructive arguments proved to lead to positive results such as creative ideas and resolving conflict.

What are your views and opinion on this ? and what do you consider as a constructive argument ?
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Hi Rami,

Yes it is true, A constructive arguments leads us to a win-win situation and develops a transparency within team and stakeholders ,which helps the project to succeed.
My journey in becoming PMP certified really helped in developing the emotional intelligence and negotiating skills, which has structured myself that if I need to start any argument "Always Keeping in mind how do we want to end it" but it is also true that we may not end always in win-win situation, sometimes we need to accept win-loss or loss-loss situations. It is very important that arguments we do is between two human beings for a good cause so it is very clear that we share our views with empathy and respect. A recent experience of such constructive argument gave motivation to teammates and helped the project to increase progress rate in a challenging weather situation and saved good money by few simple ideas rather than expense solutions. Thanks for great question which gave an opportunity to share my views.
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1 reply by Rami Kaibni
Nov 18, 2019 5:12 PM
Rami Kaibni
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SivaPrakash

Thank you for your input and for sharing your experience on this matter. You touch on a very important and sensitive point: Arguments based on Good Faith.

RK
Network:129653



Nov 18, 2019 4:43 PM
Replying to SivaPrakash Mohan
...
Hi Rami,

Yes it is true, A constructive arguments leads us to a win-win situation and develops a transparency within team and stakeholders ,which helps the project to succeed.
My journey in becoming PMP certified really helped in developing the emotional intelligence and negotiating skills, which has structured myself that if I need to start any argument "Always Keeping in mind how do we want to end it" but it is also true that we may not end always in win-win situation, sometimes we need to accept win-loss or loss-loss situations. It is very important that arguments we do is between two human beings for a good cause so it is very clear that we share our views with empathy and respect. A recent experience of such constructive argument gave motivation to teammates and helped the project to increase progress rate in a challenging weather situation and saved good money by few simple ideas rather than expense solutions. Thanks for great question which gave an opportunity to share my views.
SivaPrakash

Thank you for your input and for sharing your experience on this matter. You touch on a very important and sensitive point: Arguments based on Good Faith.

RK
Network:365



I prefer to call them "debates", or something that has a less adversarial connotation than argument but I do see them as valuable. We often don't recognize our own errors, even as simple as spelling mistakes because they looked correct when we first wrote them down. Challenging existing ideas can reveal problems that could otherwise remain hidden due to our own blind spots and confirmation bias.

I try to explain to people that I am not challenging their ideas to shoot them down, but rather expose the weaknesses so that we can fix them. I will even play "the Devil's Advocate", and debate from the opposing opinion to my own. Then I get to hear the counter-point in words that didn't come out of my own head, and see if they still form a logical conclusion.
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1 reply by Rami Kaibni
Nov 18, 2019 5:50 PM
Rami Kaibni
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Keith

This is a very good strategy to handle such situations and I agree, using the word debate is probably better. Thanks for sharing your opinion and experience.

RK
Network:129653



Nov 18, 2019 5:46 PM
Replying to Keith Novak
...
I prefer to call them "debates", or something that has a less adversarial connotation than argument but I do see them as valuable. We often don't recognize our own errors, even as simple as spelling mistakes because they looked correct when we first wrote them down. Challenging existing ideas can reveal problems that could otherwise remain hidden due to our own blind spots and confirmation bias.

I try to explain to people that I am not challenging their ideas to shoot them down, but rather expose the weaknesses so that we can fix them. I will even play "the Devil's Advocate", and debate from the opposing opinion to my own. Then I get to hear the counter-point in words that didn't come out of my own head, and see if they still form a logical conclusion.
Keith

This is a very good strategy to handle such situations and I agree, using the word debate is probably better. Thanks for sharing your opinion and experience.

RK
Network:1706



Rami -

I'm not necessarily keen on the term "argument" as that often crosses the boundary between a problem and the people involved. If we are talking about conflict, then conflict focusing on a shared problem is a sign of a healthy team. For example, conflict in defining what the problem is or in selecting a preferred option for resolving the problem is healthy.

What can help the team to stay on the right side of that line is ground rules (developed by the team) for handling conflict and a supportive leadership style by those in a position of informal/formal power.

Kiron
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1 reply by Rami Kaibni
Nov 18, 2019 5:56 PM
Rami Kaibni
...
Kiron

Thanks a lot for your input.

I do not disagree on the use of the word Argument and I agree with what you've mentioned but what if that conflict changes to an argument ? I know some might say that an argument and a conflict are the same, but they are not.

RK
Network:129653



Nov 18, 2019 5:50 PM
Replying to Kiron Bondale
...
Rami -

I'm not necessarily keen on the term "argument" as that often crosses the boundary between a problem and the people involved. If we are talking about conflict, then conflict focusing on a shared problem is a sign of a healthy team. For example, conflict in defining what the problem is or in selecting a preferred option for resolving the problem is healthy.

What can help the team to stay on the right side of that line is ground rules (developed by the team) for handling conflict and a supportive leadership style by those in a position of informal/formal power.

Kiron
Kiron

Thanks a lot for your input.

I do not disagree on the use of the word Argument and I agree with what you've mentioned but what if that conflict changes to an argument ? I know some might say that an argument and a conflict are the same, but they are not.

RK
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1 reply by Kiron Bondale
Nov 19, 2019 6:44 AM
Kiron Bondale
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Should the conflict become an argument, then I'd hope that someone on the team (not necessarily always the PM) would identify that things have escalated and would take the necessary steps (depending on the specifics of the situation) to help the two parties re-focus their efforts on resolving the problem than on "beating" each other.
Network:22233



Hi Rami,

I prefer to call it “challenge-based discussions,” but when asked to describe it differently, I will call it “productive arguing.” I use the approach primarily for team-based problem solving, but have also used it for creative ideas and resolving conflict. I actually commented on this subject on a thread a few days ago, so here’s what I said:

---- copied from “ask or answer” thread
I’m a firm believer in “challenge-based problem-solving” (which I will explain below). However, for such an approach to work, the team must have a strong sense of psychological safety in the area of being “wrong,” and as with most things, this starts with the leader. You see, when a leader admits they are wrong, others recognize they have the freedom to do the same, and an atmosphere of challenge-based thought is created. This occurs as the verbalizing of thoughts and ideas is no longer constrained to the fear of being wrong. And when fear is vanquished, barriers fall down. To make this point to other leaders, I jokingly say, “being wrong is the new right” to encourage the leaders to break the ice and be publicly wrong for the sake of their teams.


So, if you have a conducive environment for challenge-based problem-solving (i.e., the team doesn’t fear being wrong) then I believe the best approach is to engage your team regarding the question or problem that is on the table. To do this, the leader literally states, “let’s have a challenge-based discussion,” and the leader states the concern and the challenge (i.e. productive arguing) begins on the subject. When ideas are stated, you invite additional challenge to that idea, and the process continues until it resolves itself to a conclusion.
----

So, in my view, this is a powerful tool and one that a team can actual enjoy. However, you might want to reserve a conference room as it can get quite intense at times.
...
1 reply by Rami Kaibni
Nov 18, 2019 8:00 PM
Rami Kaibni
...
George

This is great feedback, thank you very much for your input. I totally agree with your point of view regarding a safe environment without fear, that is certainly important and I like the name of the game: "Challenge-Based Problem Solving" - Now this is a very creative name.

RK
Network:129653



Nov 18, 2019 7:45 PM
Replying to George Freeman
...
Hi Rami,

I prefer to call it “challenge-based discussions,” but when asked to describe it differently, I will call it “productive arguing.” I use the approach primarily for team-based problem solving, but have also used it for creative ideas and resolving conflict. I actually commented on this subject on a thread a few days ago, so here’s what I said:

---- copied from “ask or answer” thread
I’m a firm believer in “challenge-based problem-solving” (which I will explain below). However, for such an approach to work, the team must have a strong sense of psychological safety in the area of being “wrong,” and as with most things, this starts with the leader. You see, when a leader admits they are wrong, others recognize they have the freedom to do the same, and an atmosphere of challenge-based thought is created. This occurs as the verbalizing of thoughts and ideas is no longer constrained to the fear of being wrong. And when fear is vanquished, barriers fall down. To make this point to other leaders, I jokingly say, “being wrong is the new right” to encourage the leaders to break the ice and be publicly wrong for the sake of their teams.


So, if you have a conducive environment for challenge-based problem-solving (i.e., the team doesn’t fear being wrong) then I believe the best approach is to engage your team regarding the question or problem that is on the table. To do this, the leader literally states, “let’s have a challenge-based discussion,” and the leader states the concern and the challenge (i.e. productive arguing) begins on the subject. When ideas are stated, you invite additional challenge to that idea, and the process continues until it resolves itself to a conclusion.
----

So, in my view, this is a powerful tool and one that a team can actual enjoy. However, you might want to reserve a conference room as it can get quite intense at times.
George

This is great feedback, thank you very much for your input. I totally agree with your point of view regarding a safe environment without fear, that is certainly important and I like the name of the game: "Challenge-Based Problem Solving" - Now this is a very creative name.

RK
Network:1082



Disagreement is the catalyst for momentum. There is this quote from somebody that says that if everybody in the room agrees then you are in the wrong room. But the problem is that 'constructive' can be very subjective. This is why a good facilitator is worth their weight in gold during sessions where we need to come to an agreement.
...
1 reply by Rami Kaibni
Nov 18, 2019 11:54 PM
Rami Kaibni
...
I totally agree with you, sometimes a facilitator is worth gold for sure and I trust that the project manager or team leader should be qualified and experienced enough to assume the facilitator role when and as needed.
Network:129653



Nov 18, 2019 11:40 PM
Replying to Anton Oosthuizen
...
Disagreement is the catalyst for momentum. There is this quote from somebody that says that if everybody in the room agrees then you are in the wrong room. But the problem is that 'constructive' can be very subjective. This is why a good facilitator is worth their weight in gold during sessions where we need to come to an agreement.
I totally agree with you, sometimes a facilitator is worth gold for sure and I trust that the project manager or team leader should be qualified and experienced enough to assume the facilitator role when and as needed.
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