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Lee Brandt's Blog You're only as smart as your last line of code

I might have made a decent lawyer. If I’d been born without any self respect and complete absence of morality, I might’ve become a lawyer. I love to argue. I love it. I like pitting my ideas against another’s. I like that at any moment I might have an epiphany and change my perspective or opinions about something. That’s learning. Basically, in technical arguing, I’ve seen basically three scenarios.

The Salesman

First is the useless scenario. Someone has a bone to pick or an agenda to push. This is the most frustrating scenario. In that case, I am not arguing your perspective against mine, and there is no way you will ever concede defeat, because you have a prize that you are after.

The Amicable Divorce

The Second scenario is that we agree to disagree. To me this isn’t much more useful than the first. I still may learn something and later when researching your points, I may find golden nuggets of information that I can learn from, but generally, this means that one of us couldn’t convince the other, but were just not comfortable conceding the point. If I do this, I generally assume that I am wrong and quickly start researching your points so I can figure out where I am wrong if I am right, I will be better equipped to convince you (or someone) next time.

Teach You, Teach Me

The last scenario is: We argue, one of us concedes the point and we end up learning something. That’s my favorite. I love to learn and I love to teach. Even more than I love to argue. (And I argue with myself in the shower just to keep in practice).

Ultimately, I like learning more than anything else, and arguing is a really good way to learn something. The problem is, you have to argue your point fervently, while keeping your mind open to the possibility that you’re wrong and be ready to stop on a dime and say, “Hey, I think you may be right!” The flip side of that is, being ready for the other person to say that you may be right without being a jerk about it.

Danger, Will Robinson, Danger

First, Be ready to answer all questions, and don’t EVER be afraid to say you don’t know something. Faking your way through an answer or an argument is a surefire way to get someone not to trust your arguments, and possibly lose interest in arguing with you altogether.

It is also important to be aware of your arguing style and warn others, however. I have a very animated arguing style, and I am six-foot-five and 350lbs. Seeing me wave my arms and raise my voice may throw people off, but I am truly harmless, and I am NOT using this style as a tactic to win an argument. (At least not a technical argument.)

So feel free to argue with me, and if you prove me wrong, I learned something and I owe you one.

Posted on Monday, September 14, 2009 7:38 PM | Back to top

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