Playing Nice While Playing Devil’s Advocate

Conflict practically guarantees the success of any team!

Well, not exactly. I’m referring to a very specific kind of “conflict”…the role of devil’s advocate or skeptic.

Amongst other things, I’m an analytical problem-solver. I try to see things from many perspectives which makes me a good marketer. I always look for loopholes, flaws, and gaps in plans, processes, and campaigns to avoid problems popping in unannounced later on.

Because playing devil’s advocate comes naturally to me, I haven’t always considered how my comments might affect my teammates. This has resulted in hurt or anger from time to time. The easiest fix for me is to preface what I say with a statement that I’m stepping into the role of skeptic for due diligence, while making sure my question is posed in a neutral tone of voice.

For many, our work lives define who we are, at least in part. Regardless of how altruistic it may be, a direct and serious “Have you considered…” or “What if…” question from a colleague can feel like personal attack as opposed to a strategic business discussion.

Playing nice while playing devil’s advocate stimulates healthy discussions and yield better results.

© 2021 Tracey Copeland, Rolling Sands Consulting. A version of this post was published to LinkedIn on September 3, 2020.

Help…I Need More Content!

Did you know that October 31st is National Bug Busting Day in the UK? (Bugs as in head lice…blech!)

I’ve spent many hours dreaming up content ideas. When I hit a creative lull, leveraging content that already exists is a great way to kick start my brain. Recycle or reimagine your own work. Or look for inspiration in other people’s works.

Continue reading “Help…I Need More Content!”

Are You Listening?

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” — Stephen R. Covey

My not-so-great meeting habit has always been the impulse to interrupt a speaker when something they say sparks an interesting idea. Being disrespectful or diminishing the speaker’s ideas is never my intent, but that is the result in the end. Essentially, I don’t want to forget about the idea or question that popped into my head. It’s especially difficult when my comment or question has personal relevance or the topic is one of my passions, like science, branding, communications or dogs. (Yes, I’m one of those pesky dog people!)

To be a good listener, not only do I need to remain silent until the other person is finished, I genuinely want to hear people out; “…listen[ing] with the intent to understand…” So, several years ago, I started taking a notebook and pen to every meeting. A simple fix but changing a habit is never easy. They say the best communicators practice *active* listening; they make a conscious decision to listen.

This HBR article does a great job explaining the finer points of taking notes to become a better listener.

https://hbr.org/2017/03/become-a-better-listener-by-taking-notes

Do you have a bad meeting habit that needs to go?

© 2021 Tracey Copeland, Rolling Sands Consulting. A version of this post was published to LinkedIn on September 24, 2020.