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Breaking Down Barriers with Winning Arguments


As a contractor, you’re exposed to many different workplace cultures at any one time and over several years. The chances are, that in some of the workplaces you’ve been in, you’ve observed people making unethical decisions to protect themselves or their team over and above the customers / suppliers or the organisation itself.

In your temporary role, it can be difficult to call these questionable actions to account, and even if you do, you’re likely to be met with “reasons and rationalisations” as to why these actions or decisions are being taken. Yet if you’re able to change the course of action, you’re likely to leave a long term positive impact.

So how should you go about it?

The University of West Virginia’s Mary Gentile, who was recently short listed for the Thinkers50 Ideas Into Practice Distinguished Achievement Award and dubbed “the Practical Ethicist” in Compliance Week’s 2017 Top Minds Awards, has some ideas.

Mary’s recommendations go to the heart of framing any winning argument – and they’re worth taking note of. She says in order to develop the ability to frame a compelling argument that goes against the consensus, you need to carefully consider the challenging situation then ask yourself the following:

  • What are the main arguments you are trying to counter? What are the reasons and rationalisations you need to address?
  • What’s at stake for the key parties, including those who disagree with you? What’s at stake for you?
  • What levers can you use to influence those who disagree with you?
  • What is your most powerful and persuasive response to the reasons and rationalisations you need to address?
  • To whom should the argument be made? When and in what context?1

Mary says, “it’s all about understanding the reasons and motivations – both rational and emotional, organisational and personal, ethical and perhaps unethical – that guide the behaviour and choices of those with whom we want to communicate”.

And interestingly, she says if you start considering these questions more often when you observe an unethical behaviour, you’ll start seeing patterns in the rationalisation and reason for them. Then you’ll start to develop effective ways to call people to account, to question those behaviours and to offer up stronger counter arguments.

Mary Gentile’s article is well worth a read – it will help you, as a contractor, to recognise values conflicts and argue for what is right. It will also help you pitch new concepts and proposals with greater confidence in everyday business.

Developing your business takes time and resources. Ayers can take some of the pressure off you with tailored solutions to manage your payroll obligations and maximise your wealth. With over 20 years of experience, our blemish free record means we can guarantee you are compliant and you can trust we are on your side. Contact your Ayers consultant today.

Reference

  1. ideas.darden.virginia.edu/2017/10/giving-voice-to-values-how-to-counter-rationalizations-rationally/