The Danger in Being Reflexively Contrarian

Some people reflexively take the contrarian view. But there is nothing to be gained by always taking the contrarian view.

If you say white, the reflexively contrarian says black. If you say up, the reflexively contrarian says down. It doesn’t matter what you say or believe, the contrarian has to inform you (and anyone else who will listen) that there is another–opposite–view.

The problem with being reflexively contrarian and committing to that role is that you never see the value in what someone else is presenting. Because you believe your first obligation is to be contrarian, to play devils advocate, to point out the exceptions, you prevent yourself from realizing the value of any idea that’s being shared.

But there’s another problem with being reflexively contrarian: you damage relationships. By always taking an opposite position instead of supporting someone, you establish yourself as a negative, prickly, reflexively contrarian person. The devil has plenty of advocates, it’s the angel who needs advocates.

Worse still, by being reflexively contrarian no one takes your opinion seriously. They can guess what you’re going to say before the words ever escape your mouth. They know what you are thinking before you think it. And because you always have the opposite view you never add any real value to any discussion.

There’s nothing wrong with having contrarian views. No one should agree with everything anyone else suggests, believes, or proposes. A lot of people believe there is no longer any value in cold calling because of the rise of social media. I take a contrarian view to that belief. But it doesn’t mean that I reflexively reject social selling as an option for many salespeople. (myself included).

Be warned. By being reflexively contrarian you alienate people and they discount your opinions. You would do better to find ways to strengthen ideas rather than to reflexively suggest their opposite.

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Filed under: Attitude, Sales 3.0

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