A quote on the radio said: “arguments find out who is right; discussions find out what is right.” I like the distinction.
Too often, a conversation devolves into an argument and the focus changes from learning to winning. In a conversation, there is banter, but with civility and empathy; the focus remains on the content rather than the person.
The distinction reminded me of lessons from the book Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull. Ed is the co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios and president of Pixar Animation and Disney Animation. In his book, he describes “Dailies” where the animators show their in-process work to others each day in order to receive feedback on the details of their work. Ed writes: “By making the struggles to solve the problems safe to discuss, then everyone learns from – and inspires – one another. The whole activity becomes socially rewarding and productive. To participate fully each morning requires empathy, clarity, generosity and the ability to listen.”
Pixar has demonstrated how good discussions can work to make people more creative as they work together to improve the product. Keep your focus today on what is right, not who.
Radio source: Direct from Hollywood with Ryan Seacrest
Quote from Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull with Amy Wallace, 2014, p. 195.