People hate my guts when I argue with them.
And it’s because I’ve learned a little secret everyone should use to write their book and become an expert in their field.
So, last night I got into a heated debate with my parents.
That’s very typical in my family — no big deal — and I’ll spare you the details of the argument. For context, we started talking about economics and then the debate went to a bunch of places.
We went as far back as the Big Bang, if you're curious to know.
Anyway, I had a very clear point to make. It was nothing too controversial, nothing too provocative. But it was a point that’s arguable...
... which is why we were arguing over it. Ha!
But my parents kept taking some points of my argument, assuming what I thought, and argued over those very points. In some cases, these mini-debates were legitimate. In some others, they weren't.
When we write or speak, it’s okay to question premises. And we should make sure we share the premises. Otherwise, we may be arguing vain. So it is okay to solve smaller debates before bigger ones.
But, often times, people will operate from a place of emotions, assume what you’re trying to imply, hijack your argument, and take the debate some irrelevant places.
People think they know what you think, people think they’re right, and people want to win arguments. Sometimes people also just want to argue with you for the sake of it… without solving anything.
And this is why people hate my guts when they debate with me.
I don’t yield.
I don’t let people hijack the points I’m trying to make. It doesn’t matter if they're friends, family members, colleagues, or if they're the president or the prime minister. I will never yield to an unproductive debate and let others put their agenda first.
I will hold anyone accountable for what we’ve agreed to debate over. I’ll take the debate back where it needs to be and exit it if the other person is just going all over the place.
Think that makes me annoying? You can. Some people do think so.
But here is the thing:
I am not interested in being right unless I am actually right. I am interested in understanding and getting closer to the truth. The only way to do so is through productive debates with a clear scope and goal.
As a matter of fact, I often change my mind when presented with good evidence that fits what we’re discussing.
Experts are faced with a lot of hate and criticism when writing a book — or writing anything for that matter. Social media is the perfect place to get tons of unfounded criticism by people who don’t know much.
Although you can ignore the haters — which I recommend you do — you can also make sure they’ve got nothing to say. You can starve them. Which is the best strategy because other experts are going to come after you.
The truth is, even those who agree with you will find a way to make themselves interesting and rebuke what you’re saying. It’s human nature. Humans are going to be humans.
But if you establish scopes and goals, you will not give the critics the opportunity to come after you. The audacious few who still do will embarrass themselves on the public sphere.
All you’ll have to do is remind them, briefly of course, that this isn’t part of the scope, nor does it have anything to do with the goal you have in mind.
This is how you establish as an authoritative, credible figure in your field of expertise. You can’t waste your time replying to the critics, but you can starve them by being the best thinker you can be.
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