“I never allow myself to have an opinion on anything that I don’t know the other side’s argument better than they do.”
— Charlie Munger
I read this quote a few years ago on the Farnam Street blog and it stuck with me. Don’t judge people, and certainly don’t argue with people, unless you understand the topic at play and both sides of the issue on a rational level. Put aside emotional reactions and biases against others’ actions and worldviews and gather the facts.
While this mindset is very useful, I’ve realized it has limited application in the real world because it stops short. Our goal shouldn’t be to simply win arguments.
Our goal in
arguing engaging with others is to lead by changing their minds and therefore create positive change in the world. To change minds, we must move from the rational to emotional side of the issue.
- What makes up the other person’s worldview? Why do they see the world the way they do?
- What we would we think and how would we feel if we were in their shoes?
- Given this viewpoint, what might be holding them back from seeing clearly?
- How might we frame the message in a compassionate way they will take to heart?
To get to this other side, it’s not studying facts but discovery that is is needed. We need to be in discovery mode. Question-asking mode. That’s where the understanding lies. In politics, in religion & spirituality, in eating habits, in sales… if we leave out the emotional piece we’ll always fall short. We’ll just be arguers. No one likes arguers.