Maybe you’re wrong, maybe your idea is terrible, but if you aren’t willing to stand up for it, there’s no way to know for sure.
Ideas that aren’t argued over are doomed from the start. It’s the ideas that are torn apart that evolve, for better or worse.
Author David Burkus, in Why Fighting For Our Ideas Makes Them Better, reminds us that there’s significant science behind the value in fighting form ideas:
“A recent study from Charlan Nemeth at UC Berkeley, and the practices of outstandingly creative firms like Xerox PARC and Pixar, suggest that conflict isn’t something to be reduced. In fact, regular, structured fighting may be one of the single most important ingredients in the ideation process.”
How do you maintain a healthy debate over your ideas without coming across as a nutcase or a complete asshole? Burkus recommends taking a note from Pixar:
“As people criticize the work under review, that criticism must always contain a new idea or a suggestion for strengthening the original idea – it must contain a ‘plus.'”
The “plus” approach goes both ways of course. When debating ideas, try to authentically see any arguments against your idea as fact. If you still believe the idea has value, speak your concerns within the context of the feedback.
When debating against others ideas: make sure you have a benefit or alternative you can bring to the table.
You can bet that nobody will stand-up for your ideas like you can. It may be comfortable to throw an idea out occassionally and take any and all immediate feedback that comes your way, but by not standing up for your ideas you’re cutting them (and yourself) short.
Arguments do tend to get heated, but if everyone involved walks away knowing that it was all with best intentions, the benefit goes to everyone as the ideas evolve.
When it makes sense to argue over your ideas, don’t be afraid to throw the first mental punch.