The Counter Argument - Why It's Not a Pain In The Neck!


Holding the contrarian view can often be seen as obstructive, or the killer of a good idea!

Frequently in teams, it is the same person who always voices the opposing view and the reaction is generally one of frustration, or even “why must he/she always be like that!”

So often when the person starts the counter point, the general consensus is “here we go again” and stop listening.

Everyone else feels that this continuous manner holds everything back, and often, that the person has an agenda for derailing progress. It also can create cracks in that fragile team unity.

To my mind, this is a pity. You see, in truth, healthy opposition is a critical element in good decision making.

Also, innovation is founded on strong criticism. If we all just agreed, then the bar is going to be set very low indeed.

My view is we should positively seek out criticism.

Ask everyone to take on and argue a contrarian view.

Not only does this ensure that you “road test” new ideas, it also brings the one who is the natural opposer inside the tent and not make them feel the outsider.

Avoid labeling opposers as negative – they will raise the level of your thinking, and, as a consequence, the quality of your decisions.

Acknowledge the value of the opposing viewpoint, and encourage more of it.

Let’s face it, if you have a team where everyone agrees, then you are destined to make serious mistakes – and all sink together. Not very clever! 

John A Murphy 



John Murphy has been running his own consultancy business, John Murphy International, for over 10 years.

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