How to lose an argument, but think you've won: A theory on coaching conversations
October 27, 2017
A few months ago, I was having a conversation with a friend of mine that began in lighthearted fashion. We exchanged pleasantries, as you do, asked about each other’s family, as you do, and then began the slow transition into a more esoteric conversation about our common interest – football. What transpired next was one of the more interesting conversations I have had in the last year. However, it wasn’t interesting for the reason’s you might think. We didn’t learn anything new, we didn’t make each other laugh, and for all intents and purposes – at a certain point we probably didn’t even know why we were still on the phone. The reason why it was the most interesting conversation I have had in 12 months was because my friend totally, utterly, and stubbornly disagreed with me on a topic and I totally, utterly, and stubbornly disagreed with him. The topic doesn’t really matter for the sake of this article, what matters is that the conversation quickly transitioned from one of pleasantries and “how do you do’s?” into one of curse-words and “Nope, you’re wrong’s”. As I reflected on the conversation, as I often do, I came across an idea, and a concept, that is much more interesting than the one we got up in arms about.
“Why is it so hard to have a difficult conversation? And, it’s not even the fact that it’s hard, it may just be impossible.”
The conclusion I arrived at from that conversation, and the genesis of this article, is an understanding that the world around us is becoming increasingly intolerable of discomfort. The days of debate and hard conversations are moving faster in our rearview as we speed and evolve into a society that favors political correctness over forthright questioning. In other words, it is very difficult to have a difficult conversation. But, my curiosity abounds at the thoughts about why. Why is it so hard to have a difficult conversation? And, it’s not even the fact that it’s hard, it may just be impossible. And, why is it impossible? Well, that is what this article hopes to explore.