Stop Trying To Play Devil’s Advocate

Adam Grant wants you to stop trying to play Devil’s Advocate, and I’m totally with him.

Be divergent, please. Go against the grain. Speak your contrary view. But please believe what you’re saying. Play acting a disagreement for the sake of diversifying the pool of opinion is both ineffective and annoying.

Nobody benefits from the person who pipes up with, “Just to play Devil’s Advocate here, but . . . ” That’s because we don’t listen very carefully when we know you don’t really care. Sure, it’s impressive that you can parrot the opposite opinion, but if you don’t really believe it your lack of conviction only forestalls the prevailing decision. And not only that, but you’re not winning yourself the protection from criticism you think you are. The Devil’s Advocate is trying to manipulate us and we know it. We don’t like it. We even resent it.

If you see things differently than the rest of us, please say so. Please argue forcefully for your perspective. If you don’t, though, save us the Kabuki act of playing Devil’s Advocate. It’s not helpful.