A world without the Devil’s advocates

Not too long ago I attended a workshop where I was presented with a suggestion. We all are aware of the ‘is the glass half empty or half full?’ question. In this sense, this suggestion was nothing new but in my personal opinion a eye opening reminder of the power of one’s angle of view.

“Rather then playing the devil’s advocate, start playing the angel’s advocate for a change”.

So what does that mean? Let’s say for example you are presented with a new idea or a new situation. Rather then immediately coming up with all the reason why this idea won’t work or all the bad consequences that this new situation will have, force yourself to think of 3 good things first. 3 good things about the presented idea or new situation.

Not that I wish this on anybody, but let’s say you break your leg. What are three things that are good about breaking your leg? No, stop! No negative thoughts about obstacles, just tell me three good things about it. Here an example:

– I won’t have to go to work
– I can finally read that book I’ve been wanting to read for months
– Won’t have to take the ‘abuse’ from my fitness trainer for a few weeks

The simple adjustment of thinking of 3 positive things first rather then thinking about problems and obsticals right away, prevents us from wasting our energy worrying but gives us a boost to actually tackle the tasks that this new situation presents, such as finding someone to drive the children to school and walk the dog. And yes, sometimes it might be a challenge to find 3 positive things, but there are always positive things even for bad things that happen. I’ve been trying this since and to my surprise, its starting to become a habit rather then something I have to force myself to do. Depending on the gravity of the situation, sometimes it remains a challenge.

This is also powerful at work. Being a manager, it’s easy to counter any suggestions with a flood of reasons why an employee’s idea won’t work. However to start your response with “this is what I like / what’s great about your suggestion….” not only has a totally different impact on the employee but also gives me a chance to really think about it. And from there it can go two ways, I might find that my Angel’s advocate suggestions make it worth dealing with the obstacles or I might come to the conclusion that they are not. If the latter is the case, having seriously acknowledged and commended the employee for his or her suggestion, they’ll be more open to listen to my “having said that, you might not be aware of the fact that our budget is XYZ and projects ABC have already been authorised. Therefore I don’t see how we can make this work at this point”.

And where there are no employees that have suggestions/opinions, there are bound to be children, spouses, friends, neighbours.

What would the world be like if we would all play the Angel’s advocate instead of the Devil’s advocate?

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~ by spasmicallyperfect on June 2, 2007.

9 Responses to “A world without the Devil’s advocates”

  1. I found this post by surfing the “family” tag.
    What a great idea! I’ve had times in my life where I’ve done that sort of thing, to a lesser extent, but never kept up with it. Mostly because of negative pressure. It almost seems like we’re rewarded for coming up with the negative reactions.
    It occurs to me too, that practicing this sort of thinking could not only be healthier, but would also help you align more with the spiritual abundance that is available to us. Paul’s idea (in Romans) that God (read higher power, universe, whatever) has the power to turn all things toward good.
    Very cool post. Thanks.

    Welcome, dear family tag surfer. I am glad you found something of use on my little blog. Regarding your spiritual comment, I totally agree, we (as part of something greater and as a unity) do have the power of turning things towards the good. Thank you very much for dropping by and leaving your foot prints. Until next time…… take care, SP

  2. I agree.
    Your posts are always interesting spaz.
    Especially liked the last one about Leni Riefenstahl.

    Ben. Thank you so much. After having written for over a year on this blog that’s the one question that keeps haunting me at times, do I still have anything interesting to say. Which in itself is actually silly, because if I don’t have anything interesting to say in writing, chances are I don’t have anything interesting to say at all, which in itself is horrofying…… so thanks Ben.

  3. Positive energy here, SP.
    POV is so incredibly important not only in writing but in life as well.
    Great post, Angel…
    ~m

    Thank you Michael. The best thing about this exercise is that it actually sparks creativity. We are many times used to coming up with ‘buts’, but (see 😉 ) to create 3 really positive thoughts about a crappy situation requires imagination and creativity…… I am sure you would have loved some of the exercises we played….

  4. This post to me is so uniquely you. I love it. We do get wrapped up in all the reasons why things can’t go this way or that or why we must say no. Perhaps we’re just parroting what we are getting in our lives too.
    I try to do this – but sometimes I fail.
    WC

    Thank you Annie. Although it’s flattering to think that posts like these are ‘uniquely’ me, I know for a fact that these types of posts would not exist without amazing people that I have the privilege of meeting throughout my life. For example the woman who held this workshop (I will have to dig up her name, as it belongs in this post), she is such a creative inspiration, as a woman, as a human being. I do believe that our lives and the way the think/talk align. But despite the common assumption that life turns us into who we are and how we think, I have come to believe that it’s actually the other way around, that what we think parrots life. Although it may seem like semantics, to me there’s a world of difference between the two.
    And regarding failing, we all do, me included, all the time. But it’s not about that. It’s about letting the times where we are successful inspire the ones that need more practise and being able to laugh about landing on our bums at times (kinda like toddlers). Especially we women need to quit being so damn hard on ourselves. After all, we mostly don’t have that high expectations of others as we do of ourselves……
    Thank you so much Annie for coming by here so loyally and with your comments triggering my thinking ensuring that my words are more then something black that looks good on white. Luv ya, SP

  5. some total different hint I got on a postcard lately, stitched it to my kitchen board:

    “half full or half empty” asks the mind (verstand).
    “enjoying every sip” says the heart.

    big smile
    freu mi mmmeeeeegggaaaaa uf scho so glii!!!
    E

    I love it! That’s just up my alley. Although it’s getting more and more difficult to keep my heart and mind separate. That’s the thing I’ve begun to love about the ‘thirties’, those two no longer seem opposites like the used to be, they are becoming aligned more and more. If the thirties are this cool, wonder what the forties will bring 😉 . Und ich freu mi au, bin grad am packe, naja, am computere aber nume als a churzi Pause! 😉 .

  6. Good site, I stumbled onto your friend’s site by accident, the friend in Switzerland, and that led me onto yours, she has some good stories too. I like the Angel’s advocate idea but logically (I’m an engineer) it should be God’s advocate I suppose. I’ll add you to my favourites, I like to read nice things occasionally.

    Welcome John, and thank you for leaving your comment. I like to have logically minded people in my reader’s group. Although I have some really unlogical (to others of course) opinions and ideas at times, I’d like to think that I can handle logic if need be. And you are perfectly right. It should be God’s advocate if we go by mere opposites. Having said that, the concept was introduced to me this way and even if I did clue in at the time (which I frankly didn’t) I wouldn’t feel right changing it. Thank you also for your adding me to your favourites and feel free to make any more logical (or other) comments any time 😉 .

  7. It makes sense. it’s something a friend of mine’s been telling me to try for a while. I guess that now that I’ve read it (i’m a visual), I understand it better and will try it I guess. these days I get discouraged easily so it may be helpful.

    yes, and as I mentioned, it also helps open up the creative mind….. you’ll get hooked I am sure. Maybe you can even challenge me on certain examples?

  8. Spaz, just wanted to bask in the glow of your positive thoughts and words. It does make sense…and catches on fairly quickly…what if I have two devils sitting on my shoulder constantly? 😉

    then there at least 14 angels sitting there too 🙂 . glow of positive thoughts – thank you, I even saw that for brief moment……

  9. Luv ya, too – Spaz.
    How’s things?
    WC

    great. on vacation, sleeping too little and eating too much. too little time for blogging but frankly I don’t even have the time to miss it.

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