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  • Brian Fishbach

The Highest Compliment from Someone Who Disagrees with You

Stop saying, "you were right." No more. Don't say it anymore. Cross it out from your psyche.

We all have our disagreements. It seems more often than ever that disagreements are the genesis of undying grudges. Social media "discourse" is often a war of wits and devil's advocates.

In 2007, The Onion ran an article titled, Man Who Plays Devil's Advocate Just Really Wants To Be An Asshole. Twitter was barely a year old at the time.

Just this week, NBC News ran a story about how republicans in the U.S. Senate want to make it difficult to replace Senator Diane Feinstein on the Judiciary Committee. Because it's much easier to try change the rules altogether than to work together to find potential Federal Judges and Supreme Court Justices that check a lot positive of boxes for people on either side of the political spectrum.

But on Twitter on April 20, 2022, popular science author Adam M. Grant unleashed a truth bomb that should be on the minds of the professional and amateur contrarians:

The highest compliment from someone who disagrees with you is not “You were right.” It’s “You made me think.”
Good arguments help us recognize complexity where we once saw simplicity.
The ultimate purpose of debate is not to produce consensus. It’s to promote critical thinking.

As of this writing, Grant's words have only been retweeted 2,380 times and liked only 8,561 times.

Perhaps if the Tweet had been a roast or trashing of someone specific, it would have been shared more.

Teddy Mitrosilis of TheProcess.News offered a poignant response, "'Right' is overrated. Make me think, make me feel, make me reconsider, make me explore, make me curious to learn more ... that's valuable."

Similarly, Julia Skolnik of Professional Learning Partnerships concurred with Grant's advice: "I agree! In addition to this I think another meaningful outcome of debate is discovering multiple approaches to solve a complex problem, that represent various perspectives of a team or community. Important discussions & learning take time, and collaboration happens in stages."

Too often, people's social media salvations are fueled by pwning. Urban Dictionary describes pwning or "being pwned"as "a corruption of the word 'Owned.' This originated in an online game called Warcraft, where a map designer misspelled 'owned.' When the computer beat a player, it was supposed to say, so-and-so 'has been owned.'" Another definition says, "to humiliate: usually relating to first person shooter computer games." Another says, "to beat (win, cause injury), to embarrass, to be injured by a random catastrophe."

It's the opposite of healthy discourse. It's ribbing an opponent and making them an enemy for life.

Instead of providing concrete examples of pwning, we'll reiterate here what Grant wrote a year ago.

The highest compliment from someone who disagrees with you is not “You were right.” It’s “You made me think.”

Tattoo that in your psyche.


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