Overwhelming your opposition with facts

When having a dispute with someone, I like to think of the situation in two parts:

  1. Make sure everybody has the same set of facts
  2. Try to understand what in the other persons perspective is causing them to have an opinion different from yours despite #1

I spend a lot of time in this space writing about #2, but was reminded recently that you can’t forget #1 in the process.

As part of our return to Southern California, we are purchasing a newly constructed home.  This particular house is standing inventory for the builder and the only customizations we can select at this point is flooring.  With 3 dogs and an active 6-year old, we are big fans of solid surface surfaces.  Lemonade spills and dog barf is a lot easier to clean off of wood or tile flooring than it is carpet.

When we were scheduling our appointment with the design consultant to select the flooring, I explained our preferences and mentioned we were interested in getting the staircase in wood.

“You can’t have wood on the staircase,” she said.

“Why not?,” I asked, “We had it in our prior home.”

She countered with, “You can’t install wood there because the first step has a radial end to it with ballisters from the handrailing going into it.  That would have to be deconstructed and put back together in order to put wood down on it and I know my installer won’t do that.”

I left it at that, but before we had the actual appointment I took the following picture of the unfinished staircase:

That’s my wallet I placed there for scale purposes, since I knew I would have that with me at the appointment and I wanted to show how thick that wood was.  As you can see, the design consultant incorrectly described the radial portion of the stairs.  Instead of the ballisters (the vertical pieces) connecting into the bare stair, it connects to a piece of white trim.

When shown this picture, a new fact for her, the design consultant completely changed her opinion and we now have a wood staircase in the installers queue.  No angry exchange was needed and no analysis of her perspective either.  By making sure everybody had the same facts, the matter was quickly resolved.

If only the facts of software architecture were as easy to “show” to someone, my life would be a lot easier 8).

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One Response to “Overwhelming your opposition with facts”

  1. Import from China Says:

    I came across this blog the other day and you got some great info here – thanks.

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