In a recent conversation with one of my awesome managers, I found a way to briefly describe people with whom I particularly enjoy discussing complex topics: I look forward to disagreeing with them.
Think about it: you’ve got opinions on how to achieve something, maybe it’s technical maybe it’s not, and you want to build consensus. Now, picture the person or people you’re likely to get into a debate with on this topic. Maybe because they often have a different take than you do, or maybe just because you know they have a different opinion on this one topic you have in mind. Just picture it, that conversation you’re going to have with them, how the debate might unfold. Are you there? Are you picturing it?
Great. Now, are you looking forward to it?
In my experience, the very best people to work and think with are those you look forward to disagreeing with. The ones who come with great ideas backed by great data and experience, little ego, and a clear willingness to change their minds. Someone who’s got opinions but who isn’t trying to win. Someone who’s trying to find the best outcome. Someone you know, deep inside, might very well show you you’re wrong, but also someone who will accept she is wrong if you’ve got the better arguments.
Work with those people you look forward to disagreeing with.
And be that person others look forward to disagreeing with, too.