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Amy Peach

Director of Instructional Technology, Fontbonne University, St Louis, MO USA

TEDCRED 30+

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When do you keep pushing and when is it time to give up?

Learning to pick battles is an important life lesson. While working with people who have very different views is valuable in many respects, when does it cross the line into a battle of egos that doesn't move you closer to a goal? Please share experiences and insights you've had...be they professional or personal.

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    Jan 16 2013: When I get a request for something I have found that I need to dig into their request, because often what they ask for is just a path to their goal. And once I know their goal I can help in a way that makes them happy with the results I produce and thus I earn respects.

    There are some people that simple enjoy conflicts/ego-battles, and the only answer is to stay away from them. (To me having low stress is more important than winning an ego battle.)
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      Jan 16 2013: SO true, Don. I often think of the motive behind a request or statement. Quite often what they're asking for isn't the original request at all.
  • Jan 15 2013: Don't fall into the trap of not giving up "because you've already invested so much". A lot of people do that and end up losing more than they would have if they had given up as soon as it became clear (to everyone else) that it wasn't going anywhere.

    Also, don't try to lift the weight of the world on your shoulders: if other people choose to be a-holes it's not always your job to do something about it.

    Finally you have to accept that things that may seem obvious to you may not be obvious to other people, even when you know for sure you're right. Some things take experience or education to understand and they'll have to figure it out on their own, or not at all, which is not your responsibility, unless they ask sincerely for your help (you know they're being sincere when they're willing to listen to you and are open to changing their viewpoints).
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      Jan 16 2013: Excellent point about a "trap". If it is simply an idea that I am pursuing that doesn't have any direct, immediate impact on either of our lives, it's much easier to give up on it. The only time I personally struggle with it is when it directly impacts an event where other people I care about feel the effects.
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    Jan 19 2013: Hi Amy....nice to "see" you again....it's been awhile....

    Yes....learning to pick our battles is an important life lesson, so in my perception, we don't really "give up", but rather, we embrace the opportunity to learn something. We can decide for ourselves how much energy we want to "invest" in any situation in our life adventure. As TED lover says, it takes honesty with our "self" to make that decision. We can look in ourself to determine when the ego is driving our "battle", or if we are attempting to move toward some reasonable goal. My own "meter", is to observe my "self", and if I feel angry or frustrated, I may be ego driven. If I can remain calm, focused on resolution/solution/problem solving, I am not "pushing" anything, and willing/able to move through the situation with intent to learn grow and evolve:>)
  • Jan 17 2013: when you know.

    it requires being in the now and being neutral with ones ego.
    how is a small, puny ego and a large, arrogant ego the same?

    They are both unhealthy
    A balanced ego feels no lack of nor the need for
    so it is a condition of a fairly empty mind and that mind can see, think and respond clearly.
    it is really being present




    methinks
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    Jan 17 2013: Amy, As either a parent or a leader, if I have to push to get things accomplished the one of two things have happened. 1) I have been a ineffective leader or 2) I have not properly stated the issue or the task at hand.

    As a boss / owner I can influence the outcome by hiring and firing.

    My personnal style is to sit down with others who oppose the strategy / goal and find out why ... if valid make corrections ... if not then work to make them part of the team ... it quite often boils down to misunderstandings and bad communications. Often my problem ... not theirs.

    I guess that I am saying why push .... improve communications and working relations.

    I wish you well. Bob.
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    Jan 16 2013: Wisdom is the principal thing.
    Ecclesiastes 3: 1 and 6 says "To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven............A time to gain, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away."
  • Jan 16 2013: “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
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    Jan 15 2013: The 'principle of the lever' works here as well. We just not always know how long 'the other' lever is and the 'strength' behind it. So whenever it became necessary to pull with all my force on whatever lever I got and this without 'movement' towards my side, it was time to give up after a short while, because time is no variable in this equation and easily wasted once one brings it in ... :o)
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    Jan 15 2013: I don't know, because I approach any discussion with the idea that I might be wrong in my position. I don't see anything wrong with continuing a discussion until both parties are satisfied, that is, if the other person objects to your position you must be patient and keep trying to respond to their specific objections. Sooner or later it's going to become clear what is right. If it doesn't there are many ways to gracefully exit a seeming argument, such as volunteering to have the person speak to your supervisor, or, on the other side, asking to speak to a supervisor.
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    Jan 18 2013: For me, it's a matter of how much "bang" I get for my metaphorical "buck". It's a subjective thing. If one path isn't working, rather than keep trying to do the same thing in order to get a different outcome, it is time to reassess the legitimacy of the "stated" goal and find a better goal statement, then a different path toward it. It takes great self-honesty and access to feelings to do this. That's the only way to keep ego out of the conversation.
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    Jan 16 2013: I think the answer to your question depends alot on who you are in the battle.

    If you are the leader, then you have the responsibility to rally everybody together and get them focused on the end goal, and help the others to see the benefit of letting go and moving forward.

    If you are simply one of the workers, then you can apply all the great counsel that has been given already.
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      Jan 16 2013: I absolutely agree, Kate. The only time I have a problem with someone's opinion when it is vastly different from my own is when it impacts policy in some way that I know is extremely detrimental. I like Fritzie's idea of influence and how that might be applicable in situations like that.
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    Jan 16 2013: A motto I have found useful is to keep your own council, it is an idiom, and rarely understood.

    Another one is not to blame as that concedes victory to the blamed and defeat to yourself

    If is useful to understand the others' perspective, not just empathy.

    I think it is important to understand people's need to be right which is covered very nicely by Kathryn Schultz

    http://www.ted.com/talks/kathryn_schulz_on_being_wrong.html

    The value of PR and good manners and willingness

    The importance of not neglecting your best friend, you

    The value of being your own adviser

    The value of why covered very nicely by Simon Senick:

    http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action.html?utm_expid=166907-15&utm_referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ted.com%2Fprofiles%2F1076764%2Ftalks

    The value of exchange of ideas trumps everything else covered beyond nicely by Matt Ridley

    http://www.ted.com/talks/matt_ridley_when_ideas_have_sex.html

    The danger in a meme and the illogic that memes create

    http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_dennett_on_dangerous_memes.html

    And mostly that when ever you have conflict it is created by a 3rd party, NO EXCEPTIONS This is the one that is creating your problem
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      Jan 16 2013: Excellent TED talk links, Pat. I have not seen/heard/read the Dennett and will put it on my list for today. EDIT: Great talk, Pat, though here is one I wish had gone longer.
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      Jan 16 2013: Pat, I'm busy today but now you're going to suck me right into these talks, aren't you? :)
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    Jan 15 2013: Nice to see you again, Amy. I assume you are asking about interactions among adults. When the matter is important and the listener influential and potentially open-minded, persistence makes more sense in terms of energy and resources than when the issue is not very important, the person not influential (in the sense of likely to hurt others), and the person clearly is not open, for whatever reason, to views other than the ones he holds most dear. Of course the calculation is different for a person who gets pleasure from argument itself. [I am not including situations when the other person is violent or psychopathic or something, in which case cutting away quickly may be well warranted!]
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      Jan 16 2013: Nice to see you too, Fritzie! Yes, I am definitely talking adults. Children are a whole different ball game :) I really love the notion of a formula as it were. The influence of the individual is a significant factor.