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.

One thought on “Stop Trying To Play Devil’s Advocate

  1. I play devil’s advocate regularly with myself to help me look at a situation from as many angles as possible. It has the potential to take us deeper in our thinking and reflection. To do so just to be contrarian? Yes, I agree that is not helping anyone. But I think there are times when it can be helpful.

    I’m posting a vlog today reflecting on a class I taught on Sunday about Satan/the devil. It’s an interesting history of development in Jewish-Christian thought and theology. Sadly, the vlog will only touch on a fraction of what we covered in the class. It brings the idea of “the satan” (as it is written in Hebrew) into a very different light.

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